A covid vaccine could arrive in Jersey as early as November – and plans have already been drawn up to help get it out to the public as quickly as possible, including changing the law to let GPs open on Sundays.
While Jersey hasn’t pre-ordered doses of the eventual covid vaccine, the island has been promised a quantity of any obtained by the UK Government via a Ministry of Justice agreement.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Deputy Medical Officer for Health Dr Ivan Muscat explained that the team leading the island’s response to covid had already drawn up plans to ensure the vaccine can be administered as quickly as possible when it is approved.
He explained that the earliest expected date for distribution is November, but that it could be later.
Video: Dr Ivan Muscat spoke about vaccine plans at a press conference on Friday.
He also noted that there were a number of other uncertainties, including the cost of the vaccine and how it will be charged, but noted: “What has been discussed is what vaccines are likely to be available, when and how much – those are the much more immediate and more salient elements at the moment.”
Preparations to ensure the efficient distribution of the vaccine have included moves to change the law.
This morning, Economic Development Minister Senator Lyndon Farnham published plans to update legislation to allow GPs to open on a Sunday, as well as allowing pharmacies to provide vaccines on a Sunday.
In a report explaining the plans, he said this change would also help with delivering the flu vaccine, which is being rolled out to more islanders than usual to prevent a double-hit of covid and flu in the autumn and winter months, which could overwhelm the health service.
“The Government of Jersey (the “GoJ”) is currently preparing for a covid-19 vaccination programme which will be delivered as soon as the vaccine is ready. We will provide the first vaccine free to all islanders,” the proposal reads.
“Before covid-19 vaccinations can start, the GoJ needs to deliver a flu vaccine programme in order to reduce possible co-infections (i.e. people having flu and covid-19 at the same time). Co-infections would have significant implications for individuals and our health service.
“The flu vaccination programme will start at the end of September 2020. All Islanders aged 50 years or over, or in an ‘at-risk’ group will receive the vaccine free of cost.
“GPs are critical to the delivery of the flu vaccine and the covid-19 vaccine when it is available. Consultation with GPs has indicated that delivery of the vaccines may require some GPs to run extended hours surgeries in the evenings and on Sundays.”
Pictured: Under the plans, pharmacies would also be allowed to deliver vaccines on a Sunday.
It continues: “If the amendment is adopted, GPs’ surgeries would be permitted to open on a Sunday to deliver all the services usually provided by that GP’s surgery. The amendment does restrict GPs to only delivering vaccines on a Sunday because, if a patient were to attend for the purpose of being vaccinated, but the patient was exhibiting symptoms of illness, the GP would need to be able to respond accordingly.”
The proposal will face a vote by States Members this week.
If accepted, the Minister says the law change won’t be time-limited “as it is anticipated that additional capacity to provide for vaccination programmes may be required on an ongoing basis.”
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