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All West Berkshire GP surgeries to begin Covid-19 vaccinations by the end of next week

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Vaccination centre expected to open at Newbury Racecourse next week

All GP surgeries in West Berkshire will be offering Covid-19 vaccinations from the end of next week, health officials have said.

Director of nursing at Berkshire West Clinical Commissioning Group Debbie Simmons also confirmed that a vaccination centre would be established at Newbury Racecourse next week.

The racecourse site is yet to be confirmed by the NHS, but Mrs Simmons said in a local outbreak engagement board meeting tonight (Monday): "We all know in Newbury that we do have a large vaccination centre for the PCNs (Primary Care Networks) coming on next week.

"It just has to be formally approved by NHS England, but I do believe that will be a formality, so from next week we will be vaccinating from Newbury Racecourse, providing it goes through the formal approval".

Mrs Simmons said that the roll out for PCNs, groups of GP surgeries providing local patient care, was aimed at being delivered over a four to six week period, with PCNs coming on board on an intermittent basis.

"We had to plan to stagger that because of the availability of the Pfizer vaccine and how quickly we could actually get it," she said.

She said that all PCNs across Berkshire West CCG, including those in West Berkshire, would be live for Pfizer vaccinations by the end of next week.

"We have achieved it in five weeks, which I think is pretty positive. It's taken quite a lot of organisation as you can imagine".

Mrs Simmons said that PCNs had been tasked with delivering the vaccine to over 80s as far as possible and at care homes.

She said: "Some PCNs took up a very late offer of splitting the Pfizer vaccine into boxes of 75 and they were asked if they could go out to care homes if they are over 50. But very few were able to take that up because the ask came out on Christmas Eve, it was just almost impossible to sort".

The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine was approved last week and Mrs Simmons said that all PCNs that had gone live with their vaccination programme will have received a delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of next week.

She said: "They will be getting 400 vaccines per PCN. They will be used largely to go out to care homes we think, we are waiting for the direction, but that's the way most practices and GPs are considering as the best way to use it because there aren't the restrictions with moving the vaccine".

Care home staff will be offered the vaccine through this scheme, she said.

She added that the vaccination age could drop to those over 75 if they needed to use the vaccine up.

The Royal Berkshire Hospital also launched its hub vaccination programme this week, starting with hospital staff and then opening up to wider staff across health and social care.

Council staff in domiciliary and front line roles will also be offered the chance to be vaccinated.

Mrs Simmons said: "The message going out to everybody is go for it, get the vaccine. I think it's been a little bit slow, the uptake, with regard to care home staff particularly - I know West Berkshire have fed that back.

"I think there was a little bit of a reluctance, the vaccine is new and it's getting the message out there that it's safe and the safest thing to do is have the vaccine".

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