Coronavirus (COVID-19): latest information and advice
Face Coverings for Health and care staff
Health and care staff should continue to wear facemasks as part of personal protective equipment required for transmission-based precautions when working in Covid-19/respiratory care pathways, and when clinically caring for suspected/confirmed Covid-19 patients. This is likely to include settings where untriaged patients may present such as emergency departments or primary care, depending on local risk assessment. In all other clinical care areas, universal masking should be applied when there is known or suspected cluster transmission of SARS-CoV-2, e.g. during an outbreak, and/or if new SARS-CoV-2 VOC emerge.
Health and care staff are in general not required to wear facemasks in non-clinical areas e.g. offices, social settings, unless this is their personal preference or there are specific issues raised by a risk assessment. This should also be considered in community settings.
Outpatients, UEC and primary care
Patients with respiratory symptoms who are required to attend for emergency treatment should wear a facemask/covering, if tolerated, or offered one on arrival.
All other patients are not required to wear a facemask unless this is a personal preference.
Vaccines Administered Overseas
At the moment vaccines administered overseas cannot be recorded in the UK National Immunisation Management system (NIMS) which is the system used to show your vaccination status in the NHS App. Therefore the ability to show any “overseas” Vaccination Certificate and request a Vaccination Passport is not currently available from the NHS.
This issue is being worked on at a national level and an update is expected shortly. We will update you further as soon as we know more.
Any queries regarding this issue need to be directed to NHS 119 or to NHS App support rather than the GP practice.
Coronavirus and requests for Doctor’s Notes (Med3)
The Government’s rules around issuing a sick note (Med3) are that a medical professional can only issue a Med3 when an individual has had more than seven continuous calendar days off sick due to an illness (including weekends).
For any period of illness less than seven days, you are able to complete a self-certification certificate and provide this to your employer. In the unlikely event that your employer does not accept a self-certification then your doctor may be able to issue a private sick note for which you may get charged.
In light of the current Coronavirus situation, it is inevitable that a number of employees may be required to quarantine themselves at home for example due to the nature of recent travel, even in the absence of any symptoms of an illness. In these cases, your GP will not be abIe to issue a sick note as the time off work is not due to an illness, and isn’t affecting your ability to work, but rather is a precaution to avoid transmission of any illness that is yet to produce symptoms.
We therefore expect your employer to be sympathetic if you are required to self-isolate for 14 days and to understand that the reason for this is to protect the welfare of your work colleagues and the wider community. We understand that you may also be able to call NHS 111 to request an email confirmation of the suspected Coronavirus diagnosis, to show to your employer if needed.
Whilst we appreciate this may cause some difficulties between you and your employer, equally GPs have a responsibility to prioritise the assessment and management of the healthcare needs of patients who are acutely unwell, rather than spending time dealing with requests for sick notes, particularly when they aren’t in a position to issue one.
Also, for children taking time off school, there is no NHS requirement for GPs to provide letters to the school to confirm this. As I am sure you will appreciate, with the rapidly evolving Coronavirus situation, and the already existing pressures on GPs to meet the day to day demands from ill patients, the practice is unable to accommodate a school request for a GP letter. We hope that schools will work with parents to ensure any time off is appropriately recorded, obviating the need for a doctor’s note. This briefing has been written for and on behalf of your GP surgery, so please accept this as a reply to your request for a sick note/letter from the surgery.
Covid-19 Vaccination and blood clotting - Information about your vaccination
Please read the article below which explains about the different Covid-19 vaccines.
Covid Booster Clinics
We are very pleased to confirm that Saxmundham Health will be providing eligible patients with their Covid Booster vaccination. Patients will be contacted in due course but the advice is this will be no earlier than 6 months after having their 2nd Covid vaccination. For example, if you had your second dose in April we will contact you in October providing you are in one of the eligible groups.
You do not need to do anything further, we will contact you soon.
AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and blood clots
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said the available evidence does not suggest that blood clots in veins (venous thromboembolism) are caused by the COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca. This follows a detailed review of report cases as well as data from hospital admissions and GP records. This has been confirmed by the Government’s independent advisory group, the Commission on Human Medicines, whose expert scientists and clinicians have also reviewed the available data.
A further detailed review into five UK reports of a very rare and specific type of blood clot in the cerebral veins (sinus vein thrombosis) occurring together with lowered platelets (thrombocytopenia) is ongoing. This has been reported in fewer than 1 in a million people vaccinated so far in the UK and can also occur naturally – a causal association with the vaccine has not been established.
The MHRA’s advice remains that the benefits of being vaccinated continue to outweigh any risks and that the public should continue to get their vaccine when invited to do so.
The European Medicines Agency has concluded their review and stated that the benefits of vaccination still outweigh the risks despite a possible link to rare cerebral blood clots with low blood platelets. A review into whether the vaccine could be the cause of this rare type of cerebral blood clot alongside low blood platelets is ongoing and the EMA, working alongside the MHRA, will continue to investigate this.
Information for patients and the public
Thrombotic events in veins are common in the general population and have not previously been associated with vaccination.
From the millions of people already vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, there is no evidence of an increased incidence of blood clots in veins (DVT) higher than that seen in the general population.
There are no confirmed issues related to any batch of vaccine used across Europe, or the rest of the world. Additional testing has, and is, being conducted by AstraZeneca and independently by European health authorities and none of these re-tests have shown cause for concern.
The MHRA is advising, as a precautionary measure, that anyone vaccinated who develops a headache that lasts for more than 4 days after vaccination or if they develop any bruising beyond the site of vaccination after a few days, should seek medical attention.
Mild flu-like symptoms remain one of the most common side effects of any COVID-19 vaccine, including headache, chills and fever. These generally appear within a few hours and resolve within a day or two, and not everyone gets them.
Covid Vaccination FAQs
How will patients be invited for a vaccination?
When it is the right time people will receive an invitation to come forward. For most people this will be in the form of a letter either from their GP or the national booking system; this will include all the information they need, including their NHS number.
We know lots of people will be eager to get protected but we are asking people not to contact the NHS to get an appointment until they get their letter.
Is the NHS confident the vaccine is safe?
Yes. The NHS will not offer any Covid-19 vaccinations to the public until experts have signed off that it is safe to do so. The MHRA, the official UK regulator, have said this vaccine is very safe and highly effective, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.
As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products. There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process, and continued monitoring once it has been authorised and is being used in the wider population.
How long does the vaccine take to become effective?
The COVID-19 vaccination will reduce the chance of your suffering from COVID-19 disease. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine.
Why is it important to get your COVID-19 vaccination?
If you’re a frontline worker in the NHS, you are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 at work.
Getting your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as you can, should protect you and may help to protect your family and those you care for.
The COVID-19 vaccine should help reduce the rates of serious illness and save lives and will therefore reduce pressure on the NHS and social care services.
Is the vaccine vegan/vegetarian friendly?
Yes, the Pfizer vaccine does not contain any meat derivatives or porcine products.
If, and when, further vaccines are approved we will publish information about known allergens or ingredients that are important for certain faiths, cultures and beliefs.
Who cannot have the vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccination is not recommended for women who are pregnant.
People who are suffering from a fever-type illness should also postpone having the vaccine until they have recovered.
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
This is all included in the information published by the MHRA, and Public Health England will also be publishing more resources for patients and professionals. People can be assured the NHS will ensure that they have all the necessary information on those vaccines that are approved by the MHRA before they attend for their vaccination.
Is the NHS confident the vaccine will be safe?
Yes. The NHS would not offer any COVID-19 vaccinations to the public until it is safe to do so. The MHRA, the official UK regulator authorising licensed use of medicines and vaccines by healthcare professionals, has made this decision, and we have full confidence in their expert judgement and processes.
As with any medicine, vaccines are highly regulated products. There are checks at every stage in the development and manufacturing process.
What is the evidence to show the vaccine is safe for BAME communities?
The phase three study of the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine demonstrated a vaccine efficacy of 95%, with consistent efficacy across age, gender and ethnicity. Overall, among the participants who received the COVID-19 vaccine 82.1% were White, 9.6% were Black or African American, 26.1% were Hispanic/Latino, 4.3% were Asian and 0.7% were Native American/Alaskan.
I’m currently ill with COVID-19, can I get the vaccine?
People currently unwell and experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should not receive the COVID-19 vaccine until they have recovered.
Do people who have already had COVID-19 get vaccinated?
Yes, they should get vaccinated. There is no evidence of any safety concerns from vaccinating individuals with a past history of COVID-19 infection, or with detectable COVID-19 antibody, so people who have had COVID-19 disease (whether confirmed or suspected) can still receive the COVID-19 vaccine when it is their time to do so.
Are there any known or anticipated side effects?
Like all medicines, vaccines can cause side effects. Most of these are mild and short-term, and not everyone gets them. Even if you do have symptoms after the first dose, you still need to have the second dose. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of the vaccine.
Very common side effects include:
- Having a painful, heavy feeling and tenderness in the arm where you had your injection. This tends to be worst around 1-2 days after the vaccine
- Feeling tired
- General aches, or mild flu like symptoms
As with all vaccines, appropriate treatment and care will be available in case of a rare anaphylactic event following administration.
How many doses of the vaccine will be required and when?
You are required to have two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, 21 days apart. You may not be protected until at least seven days after your second dose of vaccine.
I have had my flu vaccine, do I need the COVID-19 vaccine as well?
The flu vaccine does not protect you from COVID-19. As you are eligible for both vaccines you should have them both, but normally separated by at least a week.
Will the COVID-19 vaccine protect me from flu?
No, the COVID-19 vaccine will not protect you against the flu. If you have been offered a flu vaccine, please try to have this as soon as possible to help protect you, your family and patients from flu this winter.
Face Coverings Advice
Please see this information guide regarding Face Coverings.
Covid-19 Antibody Testing
The Government recently announced the introduction of a test to detect the presence of the Covid 19 antibody. It is not fully understood what a positive antibody test means in terms of immunity and future risk from COVID-19. At the moment, tests are only available for the purpose of increasing understanding of who has (or has not) had an immune response. There is little clinical benefit in knowing this information as the evidence so far does not show that having had the virus once provides immunity to prevent a patient getting the virus a second time. Hence it is extremely important that we all continue with the current approach of social distancing, hand washing, infection control procedures and so on. The test may be offered, if deemed appropriate, to those patients who are having a blood test for another clinical reason.
The antibody test is not currently being offered to the general population. Some patients have said that their employer has asked for the test to be undertaken before they return to work. This is not in line with current government guidance
Please find via the link, information in relation to the COVID- 19 World Pandemic that has been produced by Doctors Of The World available in 32 different languages:
Information for the public on the outbreak of coronavirus, including the current situation in the UK and information about the virus and its symptoms.
COVID Symptom Tracker - Take 1 minute to report your health daily, even if you're well
Covid Vaccination Certificates
Demonstrating your COVID-19 vaccination status allows you to show others that you’ve had a full course of the COVID-19 vaccine when travelling abroad to some countries or territories. A full course is currently 2 doses of any approved vaccine.
COVID-19 vaccination status is available to people who live in England.
You can get your vaccination status in digital or paper format.
The service will go live from Monday 17 May.
What you can use it for
From 17 May, you may be able to show your COVID-19 vaccination status as proof of your status when travelling abroad.
There are not many countries that currently accept proof of vaccination. So for the time being most people will still need to follow other rules when travelling abroad – like getting a negative pre-departure test.
check the entry requirements for your destination country on the GOV.UK foreign travel advice pages
get up-to-date information from the website of your destination country
You may still be required to show other proof like a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, and you may still have to isolate on arrival.
The government is working with the devolved administrations to ensure this facility is available to everyone across the UK, and continues to work to ensure that every UK citizen is kept safe.
If you’ve not been fully vaccinated
People should continue to follow the entry requirements of the country they are travelling to, such as proof of a negative COVID-19 test on arrival. You should carefully research the requirements of your destination country before travelling.
Further details on entry requirements can be found on the GOV.UK foreign travel advice pages and on the websites of your destination country.
See travel advice for British people travelling abroad during the pandemic
How to access your COVID-19 vaccination status
You can access your COVID-19 vaccination status through the free NHS App from 17 May. You can access the app through mobile devices such as a smartphone or by tablet. Proof of your COVID-19 vaccination status will be shown within the NHS App. We recommend that you register with the app before booking international travel.
If you do not have access to a smartphone and know that the country you are travelling to requires COVID-19 vaccination status, you can call the NHS helpline on 119 (from 17 May) and ask for a letter to be posted to you. This must be at least 5 days after you’ve completed your course of the vaccine. We expect the letter to take up to 5 days to reach you.
Please do not contact your GP surgery about your COVID-19 vaccination status. GPs cannot provide letters showing your COVID-19 vaccination status.
Important Notice Regarding Covid Vaccinations
The NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme is now underway and is starting to be rolled out in GP-led vaccination centres. The information below answers some of patients’ key questions about getting the vaccine.
1. When will I be getting the vaccine?
To protect those who are the most as risk first, the vaccine is initially being offered to patients aged 80 and over. More information about how the vaccine will be rolled out to people in order of priority, starting with those who most need protecting from the virus, is in the Why do I have to wait? leaflet.
Vaccinations are underway in the Suffolk for the first eligible groups. Patients need two doses of the vaccine less than 12 weeks apart.
2. How will I be invited for an appointment?
GP practices are working through our lists of eligible patients and we will contact you to invite you to book your appointment when it is your turn.
Please DO NOT contact the surgery to try to make an appointment for a COVID vaccine before you hear from us. This will allow our staff to focus on helping patients needing medical help as well as starting to contact patients about vaccine appointments when we’re able to do so. Practice staff are not currently able to give you any more information than we have provided here.
3. Where will I be getting the vaccine?
GP practices are working collaboratively to run local vaccination centres. Together, our teams bring years of experience and knowledge on delivering vaccination programmes. The vaccination centre for our patients is at Saxmundham Health and this is where you will come for your vaccine.
The Pfizer vaccine is safe and highly effective, but it is complex to move, store and prepare and so can only be given in vaccination centres that meet particular requirements.
4. Will housebound and care home patients be able to have the vaccine at home in the same way as for the flu vaccine?
We will be making arrangements to offer the Covid-19 vaccine in people's homes and in care homes for people who are unable to get to a vaccination centre.
We can’t confirm when that might be as this may have to wait for supply of the right type of vaccine. This is because only some vaccines can be transported between people’s homes.
You will be asked a series of questions to ensure you understand and consent to the vaccination and this will be recorded during your appointment. For further information and to view the consent form see this gov.uk publication.
- The vaccine will be given in order of priority to those at highest risk first.
- We will be in contact with you with information about where and when you will need to receive the vaccine.
- Please act on your invite when it comes, and make sure you attend your appointments when you arrange them.
- Please continue to abide by all the social distancing and hand hygiene guidance, which will still save lives.
Please go to the Covid-19 information page for all the latest FAQs regarding the Covid-19 vaccination.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) response transparency notice
We are undertaking a range of work to support the government response to the coronavirus outbreak. This Coronavirus (COVID-19) response transparency notice details our legal bases for processing personal data in the course of this work.