Substance service staff prioritised in vaccination rollout

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People working in community-based addiction services will be given high priority in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations to healthcare staff, NHS England has confirmed.

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Frontline health and social care workers are classed as priority group B

A letter to the chief executives of all NHS trusts, foundation trusts and other organisations sets out operational guidance for the ‘immediate requirement’ to vaccinate frontline health staff, and ensure ‘maximum uptake’ of vaccinations.

NHS trusts will be established as ‘hospital hubs’ by mid-January, it states, with a responsibility for vaccine delivery to everyone in priority risk group 2b – frontline health and social care workers. However, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommends that, within this group, priority should be given to those ‘at high risk of acquiring infection, at high individual risk of developing serious disease, or at risk of transmitting infection to multiple vulnerable persons or other staff in a healthcare environment’. This includes those working in ‘independent, voluntary and non-standard healthcare settings such as hospices, and community-based mental health or addiction services’. 

Meanwhile, a PHE survey of more than 5,000 people has found that almost a quarter of drinkers say that their alcohol intake increased during the second lockdown. However, 45 per cent of those who drank more intend to reduce their alcohol intake this year and more than 40 per cent of smokers say they intend to try to quit. The survey found that seven out of ten adults were motivated to get healthier this year as a result of COVID-19. 

‘The past year has been immensely challenging and being stuck at home much more this year, understandably, has seen some unhealthy habits creeping up on us all,’ said PHE’s chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone. ‘But our survey shows the vast majority of us want to do something positive this year to improve our health and now is a good time for a reset.’