First jabs offered to all adults by end of May

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Health officials have said that Islanders in their 40s should be able to book their jabs from the start of next month, with those in their 30s set to be offered a first dose in early May and 18 to 29-year-olds by the end of the month.

Details of phase two of the vaccination programme were unveiled yesterday when it was also confirmed that:

Staff and inmates at HMP La Moye will get priority vaccination, but police officers, teachers and other school staff will not.

  • The vaccination centre at Fort Regent administered 1,300 daily jabs last weekend – and this could be a ‘new benchmark’ for the coming months, officials said.
  • There was no evidence of any additional risk of blood-clots among those receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.
  • New communication methods including Snapchat and TikTok will be used in order to communicate key vaccination messages to younger Islanders.

The government has also announced that it will reveal more details of the Island’s reconnection strategy, including plans to reopen borders, on Friday afternoon.

Vaccination programme head Becky Sherrington said that Jersey would retain a predominantly age-based system of priority tiers, in line with the advice of the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

‘One of the key messages from the JCVI is that the speed of the rollout is really important, and we will continue to follow this advice,’ she said.

‘An age-based delivery model will facilitate rapid vaccine deployment to maximise public health benefit. There is good evidence that age remains the greatest risk with Covid-19, even in those under 50 years of age.’

Mrs Sherrington said that members of the Covid Vaccination Panel – formed at the start of February – had considered applications for some groups and individuals to be given priority during the early stages of phase two.

Staff and inmates at HMP are to be prioritised due to the prison being an institution that needed to be protected against a potential outbreak, it was explained.

Decisions made by the panel were based on scientific evidence, Mrs Sherrington added, with a small number of exceptional cases being agreed.

Applications were made by a teaching union on behalf of those working in schools, and by police chief Robin Smith on behalf of his officers, but those were turned down.

Deputy medical officer of health Dr Ivan Muscat said there was no evidence to support fears expressed in some countries about an additional risk of blood-clots for those who received the AstraZeneca (Oxford) vaccine.

Dr Muscat said there had been no reports of any issues involving patients in Jersey and that the UK regulator had only received ‘very rare’ reports of any issues.

A total of 32 reports indicating a possible link had been received for the 9.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine administered in the UK by the end of February, Dr Muscat said, with very similar numbers for the other main vaccine manufactured by Pfizer BioNTech: 37 reports for 10.7m doses.

Mrs Sherrington said that while it was understandable that some people might have concerns, it was ‘really important’ for Islanders to book their appointment once they were eligible in order to maintain the existing ‘absolutely brilliant’ injection rate.

Operations lead Ross Barnes said that tests of a higher number of appointments at Fort Regent had gone well at the weekend, with up to 1,300 people attending daily. Depending on continuing levels of supply, this capacity could become a ‘new benchmark’, he said.

In communicating with the younger age groups who will become eligible to be vaccinated during April and May, platforms such as YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok will be used, as well as two-way dialogue via Facebook Live.

Latest vaccination statistics will now be issued twice weekly, every Monday and Thursday. The latest data, covering the period to 10 March, recorded a total of 42,231 doses of vaccine in Jersey, equating to 38.2 doses for every 100 people, which was ahead of the UK figure of 36 on the same date.

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