COVID-19 Information

COVID-19

Please note that our shutters are OPEN but please only come into the surgery if it is essential, you can access help via:

eConsults (online on our website)

calling reception on 01438 715044

leaving a letter through our letter box (in the black door)

We are open and here to help our patients to stay safe

In order to ensure our patients are vaccinated as quickly as possible we will be sharing data with organisations that can offer vaccinations to our patients. Further details about our data sharing procedure can be seen in our privacy notice LINK TO NOTICE.

Coronavirus Vaccine Programme 

The COVID Vaccinations are only available at designated Hubs.  These are generally Primary Care Network (PCN) Hubs which are groups of GP practices working together to provide specific additional services for all of the patients within that PCN.  The Hubs had to obtain approval from the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) for providing the vaccinations for patients to ensure that the vaccinations could be stored, administered and patients monitored safely.   Individual surgeries were not able to provide the vaccine as they do the flu vaccine due to the special storage and logistical issues with these vaccines.  Bridge Cottage Surgery is working with the Peartree Group Practice to provide COVID vaccinations for our patients.

COVID vaccine supplies

You may have seen news coverage about vaccine supplies over the coming weeks.

From now until 29 March, our GP-run vaccination centre at Moors Walk Surgery will still be delivering vaccinations to people in the top priority cohorts. This includes everyone aged 50 or over, eligible carers and those in vulnerable groups. If you are one of these patients, you can also choose to book a vaccination online at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/ or by calling 119. 

Everyone who is due to have a second dose of either the Pfizer or the AstraZeneca vaccine between 29 March and the end of April will receive their second dose. If you had your first dose at our GP-run vaccination centre then we will contact you when it is time for your next appointment. There is no need for you to phone us.

If you booked your first appointment at a pharmacy or large vaccination centre through the national booking system website or by calling 119 then you should already have a second dose appointment in your diary, which you should attend as planned.

Any first dose vaccinations already booked to take place in April via the national booking system will also still go ahead.

Up to date information about COVID vaccinations can be found at https://covid.healthierfuture.org.uk/ 

Question: Does the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine cause blood clots? - UPDATE 8/4/21

Following yesterday’s guidance update from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) in relation to the use of the Astra Zeneca vaccine, the Government has published some new materials for patients and healthcare professionals. 

The public information leaflet, is available at the following link: COVID-19 vaccination and blood clotting - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). The HTML version is compatible with screen-reading technology for those who are blind or partially sighted, and will reformat so that it can be read easily on any size of device (mobile, laptop, PC) etc.  

Answer: Blood clots can occur naturally and are not uncommon. Reports of blood clots received so far are not greater than the number that we would normally expect to see amongst the groups of the population who have been vaccinated.  People should still go and get their COVID-19 vaccine when asked to do so.

More than 11 million doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine have now been administered across the UK.  Vaccine safety is of paramount importance and the regulatory agency, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) continually monitors the safety of vaccines in the UK.  

For more information and a statement from the MHRA, see this link.

Update - 9th March 2021

Texts now going out to patients inviting them for their COVID Vaccination

NHS England has issued a press release announcing that from today (Tuesday 9 March), text messages will start to be sent to patients inviting them to use the national booking website. The full press release is below for your information:

https://www.england.nhs.uk/2021/03/nhs-text-alerts-for-life-saving-covid-jab/

Almost 400,000 people aged 55 and over and 40,000 unpaid carers will be the first to get a text alert inviting them to book a slot. The messages will include a web link for those eligible to click and reserve an appointment.

Reminders will be sent 2-3 weeks after the original alert to encourage people to get their vaccine if they have not taken up the offer.

Update on GP Hub Vaccination programmes

GPs in Welwyn and Hatfield are working hard to vaccinate everyone in the priority groups. At the moment our focus is on people aged under 65 with specific health conditions which put them at higher risk of becoming seriously ill with COVID as well as those people who we know are Carers who are eligible to be vaccinated. We are inviting people as quickly as we can, based on the vaccine supplies available to us. If you fall into one of these categories, we will be contacting you over the next fortnight once we have been allocated our vaccine stocks. We have also started to invite our more elderly patients in for their second dose.

There are some weeks when we are not receiving as much supply of the vaccine as we would like, due to national supply constraints. We know this has led to some longer waits than we would like to see for our patients.  If you or someone you care for is eligible for a vaccination and is very concerned about waiting to be called, you can try to book online at  https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus- vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/  or dial 119 to see if an alternative vaccination centre has any appointments.

There is currently a high demand for appointments through this route which may mean that you have to travel further to get an appointment until national vaccine supplies increase. There are vaccination centres at the following locations in east and north Hertfordshire:

  • Robertson House, Stevenage
  • Chells Manor Community Centre, Stevenage
  • Da Vinci former grammar school, Letchworth
  • Avanti Meadows Primary School, Bishop’s Stortford
  • The Priory, Ware
  • Roche Pharmaceuticals, Welwyn Garden City

If these options do not appear for you, this means that all their appointments are currently booked up. More appointment slots do get added so check back regularly. There are also vaccination sites in west Hertfordshire, Essex and Bedfordshire that may be closer to where you live.    

Letters and texts are now being sent from NHS England to people aged over 55, inviting them to arrange an appointment online using the national booking website. If you are aged over 55 and receive one of the national letters but don’t want to book online and would prefer to receive your vaccination with us at our GP hub at Moors Walk Surgery, you will need to be patient and wait for us to call you. Like all local vaccination services provided by GPs, our hub is not on the national booking site; it is managed by practice staff who will either call you or send you a letter or text message.  As soon as we have vaccinated everyone in the earlier priority groups and we have enough vaccine to move on to the next group, we will be in contact with over 55s.  

We are expecting our vaccine supplies to GP hubs to increase considerably from the middle of March so we hope to be able to call in many more people after that – for their first and second doses, in line with national guidance about priority groups and the recommended interval between doses. Please be assured that nobody who is due a second dose will have to wait longer than 12 weeks for it.

COVID Vaccinations – A Guide for women of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding 

Information for women who are pregnant, are breastfeeding or may be thinking about trying for a baby has been updated by Public Health England here. This information may be helpful if you have questions relating to having the COVID vaccine.

Update - 25th February 2021

Please see the attached update and Questions & Anweres on the links below:

Update 25th February 2021

Patient COVID Q&A

Update - 15th February 2021

In Hertfordshire we know that there are some frontline social care staff who are yet to have their vaccination.  To encourage them to do so, the national booking site (www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination) is now accepting bookings for social care staff vaccinations at the centres run by Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust and local pharmacies. These sites only offer the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine and so will not be suitable for any frontline social care staff who are aged 16-18 years old.  Those aged 16-18 are being asked to contact their surgery to organise a pfizer vaccination.

When you go for your appointment, you will need to take identification to show you are a care worker.     If you have a work name badge which includes your photograph, take that with you to your appointment.  If not, you will need to take an alternative form of photo ID such as a passport or driving licence and also either a signed letter from your employer / the local authority or a pay slip dated within the last three months.

When you arrive for your appointment, your information will be checked at the vaccination centre.    It would be helpful if you could also take your NHS number with you. If you don’t know it, you can find it here:  https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/online-services/find-nhs-number

Update - 12th February 2021

We have now offered everyone in Groups 1-4 the vaccine. We have also vaccinated all eligible consenting housebound patients >70.

From today, patients in Group 6 which is those aged 16-65 and those "at-risk" groups eg diabetes, COPD with be receiving invitations. Appointments for these patients start from next week. There are approximately 600 available slots at present and there are around 6000 Group 6 patients, so they will be invited in stages. It is also planned to vaccinate all remaining housebound patients in the next 2 weeks.

NHSE have asked MVS (mass vax sites) to focus on Group 5 (ages 65-69) and will be sending out invites to this group.

Update - 8th February 2021

All people aged 70+ who do not yet have an appointment to receive their first COVID-19 vaccination are now encouraged to book online or over the phone, even if they have not received a letter.

The easiest way to arrange a vaccination is via the online national booking service: www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination. Through this system, eligible patients are able to choose a time slot and location that suits them at a local vaccination centre. Alternatively, bookings can be made by calling 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week. Alternatively, if a suitable and convenient slot is not available, eligible people registered with Bridge Cottage Surgery can contact Peartree Group Practice on 01707 329292 AFTER 10.00am to book their appointments for the two injections, 12 weeks apart, at Moors Walk Surgery, 123 Moors Walk, WGC, AL7 2BQ.

If you are 70 or over or on the Shielded Patient List, then it is likely that you have been contacted by the NHS already.  If you haven’t, this could be for a number of reasons, but is most likely to be because you are not registered with a GP or have recently moved, and we therefore don’t have your contact details.

As well as getting access to Covid-19 vaccines, being registered with a GP also means you are invited to important health checks such as for cancer or heart disease, and can access care easier when you need it. More information on registering with a GP is available at https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/gps/how-to-register-with-a-gp-surgery/

Update - 3rd February 2021

COVID-19 vaccination - national call/recall letters to Clinically Extremely Vulnerable people

From Wednesday (3 February), people aged 18 and over in the clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) cohort (as identified through the Shielded Patient List) will start to receive letters from the national call/recall service inviting them to book their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre or community pharmacy. The letters make it clear that people have a choice of where to get vaccinated and can choose to wait for their GP services to contact them directly, if they haven’t already, or book into a vaccination centre or community pharmacy. 

Update - 1st February 2021

Bridge Cottage Surgery Patients aged 70-74 and those COVID 19 High Risk will be contacted in the next week by Welwyn & Villages PCN (based at Peartree Surgery) to invite them for their COVID vaccination.   Patients within groups 1-3 below who have not yet had their vaccination will also be invited again.   Our patients are being vaccinated as quickly as possible, however, the speed of the process is dependent on supply.   Housebound patients are also currently being contacted by Welwyn & Villages PCN to organise their vaccination.

If you are aged 75 and over and have not yet been contacted please contact the Surgery.

You may find that you receive multiple invitations for vaccination locally when you have already had your first vaccination, please just ignore these if you have already been vaccinated. 

Update - 12th Jan 2021

Bridge Cottage Surgery patients aged 75-79 will be sent a text or letter in the next week by Welwyn & Villages PCN (based at Peartree Surgery) to invite them for their COVID vaccination.  

The patient groupings order for vaccination are as follows:

1 - Residential Care Home patients

2 - Patients over 80yrs and health and social care workers

3 - Patients aged 75-79 yrs

4 - Patients aged 70-74 yrs and those COVID-19 High Risk

5 - Patients aged 65-69 yrs

6 - Patients aged 16-64 yrs with underlying health conditions

7 - Patients aged 60-64 yrs

8 - Patients aged 55-59 yrs

9 - Patients aged 50-54 yrs

Why you have to wait for your COVID vaccination - please use this link which takes you to the government website and explains the groupings further.

Update - 11th Jan 2021

You may receive a letter from NHS England inviting you to book your free NHS coronavirus vaccine now.  Please only try to book a vaccination if you have received the letter.

Letter content:

We have sent you this letter as experts recommend that people in your age group are among the first to get the vaccine. This is because evidence shows that risk of serious illness because of coronavirus increases with age.

How to book your appointments

To book your vaccination, visit: www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination

If you cannot use the NHS website, phone 119 free of charge. You can ask someone else to do this for you if you prefer. At times, the phone line might get very busy and this may mean waiting to speak to someone.

When you book, you will need:

  • your name and date of birth
  • your NHS number, which is at the top of this letter

You may also be contacted by your local NHS services. If you have, you can choose to either book your vaccination appointments through your local NHS services or using the details in this letter. You should book as soon as possible. If you've had your first vaccine dose already, the NHS will contact you when it's time for your second dose.

If you are unable to leave the house to travel to where you are offered an appointment and cannot arrange for someone to help you, your local NHS services will be in contact with you.

About the coronavirus vaccine

You need 2 doses of the vaccine to get the best protection from the virus. Your second dose will be given up to 12 weeks after your first.

When you book your first appointment through

www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or by phoning 119, you will also need to book your second appointment.

For more information, read the leaflet that came with this letter, or visit

www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination

Some people may not be able to get this vaccine at the moment. If you have had bad allergic reactions in the past, it is important that you read all the guidance. You can also ask about it when you book, or discuss it with a health professional when you attend your appointment.

The place that you choose to have your vaccine will keep you safe from COVID-19 through a range of measures including cleaning and disinfecting and having social distancing in waiting areas. Please also wear a face covering to your appointment

Update - 4th Jan 2021

All of our over 80s should have beeen contacted last week by Welwyn & Villages PCN to book an appointment for their COVID vaccination.  Please follow the guidance on the letter / text message to book your appointments.

In order to assist us, we would be extremely grateful if you could wait to be contacted and regularly check our website for updates.

The vaccine will first be offered to:

  • people who live in care homes and care home workers
  • people aged 80 and over
  • health and social care workers in England

Many people are calling or emailing seeking information about the vaccine or to be put on a priority list - please be advised that other than the specified groups by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation(JCVI), there is no priority list and everyone will be contacted in due course. Please do not contact the surgery - it will tie up our phone lines, stopping people getting through for appointments and unnecessarily involve our admin staff when their efforts are needed elsewhere. We thank you for your patience at this time.


The vaccine will then be rolled out to other priority groups. You can find out information about the priority groups at the following link: Priority groups for coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination: advice from the JCVI, 2 December 2020 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Please also visit the following link for further details COVID-19 vaccinations – East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust (enherts-tr.nhs.uk) or the COVID-19 Vaccinatation leaflet COVID 19 Leaflet.pdf

 

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

If you develop symptoms of coronavirus

If you develop any symptoms of coronavirus, the most common symptoms of which are, a new continuous cough and/or high temperature and/or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, please self-refer yourself for a coronavirus test by going to the following link: https://self-referral.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/antigen/name or by calling 119 (please get a test as soon as possible, but please note you need to get the test done in the first 5 days of having symptoms). 

Please also follow Public Health England’s advice via: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-stay-at-home-guidance/stay-at-home-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-covid-19-infection and go on https://111.nhs.uk/ for urgent advice; if the website suspects you have coronavirus, and you register your mobile number on the site, you will receive daily texts from the NHS. The messages will check how you are and ensure you get the help you need.

If you require urgent advice you can also contact Bridge Cottage Surgery on 01438 715 044. 

 

COVID-19: guidance for the public on mental health and wellbeing

Advice and information on how to look after your mental health and wellbeing during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak can be found by clicking here (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-the-public-on-mental-health-and-wellbeing)

Accessing Support

If you or a family member are affected by issues surrounding mental health and would like support and/or advice, please contact the surgery to make a telephone appointment with one of our GP's. 

In Hertfordshire, there are a number of self referral services available, which are accessible without needing to see a GP. For further information please click here (https://www.bridgecottagesurgery.nhs.uk/mental-health)

 

Supporting your recovery after COVID-19

If you are affected by on-going symptoms following a coronavirus infection and would like support and/or advice, please contact the surgery to make a telephone appointment with one of our GP's. 

As you find yourself recovering from COVID-19 you may still be coming to terms with the impact the virus has had on both your body and mind. These changes should get better over time, some may take longer than others, but there are things you can do to help. The website Your COVID Recovery helps you to understand what has happened and what you might expect as part of your recovery and can be accessed by clicking here: https://www.yourcovidrecovery.nhs.uk/

 

Covid-19 Rehabilitation Service

Locally we have access to refer patients onto a COVID-19 Rehabilitation Service. For further information please click here (https://www.hct.nhs.uk/our-services/covid-19-rehabilitation-service/). If you would like to be referred onto this Service please fill out Covid-19 rehabilitation service patient questionnaire, which can be found by clicking here (https://www.hct.nhs.uk/media/3987/covid-rehab-screening-form-version-final-030820.docx) and make a telephone appointment with a Clinician at Bridge Cottage Surgery to discuss further. 

 

COVID-19 Vaccines 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?

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

Headache

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.