The UK’s national vaccination programme has made rapid progress since it began in December, with millions of vaccines already administered and hundreds of thousands more people getting them each day. For daily updates on the how the national programme is progressing, click here.
The target is the nine groups most at risk of dying from Covid to receive their vaccination appointments by 15th April has been met.
Below is some useful information about the local programme during phase 1 - which covers all those aged 50 and over, as well as people with underlying health conditions. An overview of the second phase of the vaccination programme, which will cover 18-49 year olds, can be read here.
What are the priority groups during phase 1?
The order of prioritisation is based on the advice and recommendations of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The Committee is independent of Government and has set out the following list based on clinical need. For more information on the JCVI, click here. For further information on the priority list itself and details about each group, click here.
When can I expect to be contacted? Why do I have multiple invitations for appointments? Do I have to travel out of area?
Both nationally and locally, great efforts are being made to vaccinate patients in order of the priority list. In the Tunbridge Wells constituency, individuals in group 8 can now start booking online.
If you are in group 1 to 4 and believe you have been missed out as you have not been contacted by your GP or received a letter please come forward to book your appointment as a letter is no longer required. More information on how to do so can be found here.
There are currently two systems working simultaneously to contact people. This may feel confusing but it is a ‘belt and braces’ approach to ensure no one is missed out (because, say, they don’t answer the phone). You may expect therefore to be contacted by NHS Direct, your local surgery, or both
Invitation from GPs:
If you are in one the groups currently being vaccinated you will be contacted by your local surgery to arrange an appointment at a local site. This system was the first to be established and most people in the first two groups received their vaccination this way.
Once an appointment is made, you will be asked to go to one of the vaccination centres listed below, which are run by local GPs.
Once you have received your vaccine at a local centre, your second appointment will be scheduled.
Please do not call your GP to schedule your appointment: the GP group covering your area will contact you.
NHS Direct Bookings:
The NHS is sending letters to people in the eligible groups, offering the opportunity to book an appointment for both their first and their second vaccination appointment and are also contacting people with text messages titled 'NHSvaccine'.
These bookings are made via the online NHS vaccination portal here.
If you decide to book using this method, there will be several regional vaccination centres to chose from, though most people in West Kent are being directed towards Sevenoaks Pharmacy, Boots at Bluewater and Ticehurst Pharmacy.
Other venues are being added. This is also be the system used to book appointments at the mass vaccination centres which are being established each week.
The mass vaccination centre serving West Kent opened on the 9th February at the Angel Sports Centre in Tonbridge. The centre is very close to Tonbridge Station, and just off the A21 with plenty of parking.
To read more about the pharmacies currently offering this service or other mass vaccination centres, click here – this site is regularly updated and will display more locations as they become available.
Where will I be vaccinated if my appointment is booked through local GPs?
Your doctor’s surgery will belong to what is called a Primary Care Network. The constituency of Tunbridge Wells is covered by three such ‘networks’ and it is within these administrative groups that GPs are rolling out the vaccine in their respective areas. These are the Tunbridge Wells Primary Care Network, the Tonbridge Primary Care Network (covering Paddock Wood), and the Ridge Primary Care Network (which is undertaking vaccinations in the Weald area). If you chose not to have an NHS Direct booking, or if you have already been contacted by your local GP network, you will attend a vaccination centre at one of the locations below:
Patients registered at the following practices are receiving their vaccinations at the Masonic Hall, St John's Rd, Tunbridge Wells TN4 9UY.
- Kingswood Surgery
- Speldhurst & Greggswood Medical Practice
- Clanricarde Medical Centre
- Grosvenor & St James Medical Practice
- Abbey Court Medical Centre
- St Andrews Medical Centre
- Rusthall Medical Centre
- Waterfield House Practice
- Lonsdale Medical Centre
There is wheelchair access at this site.
Patients registered at the following practices in the Weald are receiving their vaccinations at either the Headcorn Aerodrome, Shenley Road, TN27 9HX or the Ticehurst Village Hall, Lower High Street, Ticehurst TN5 7BB.
- Howell Surgery – Brenchley and Horsmonden
- Lamberhurst Surgery
- Old Parsonage Surgery
- North Ridge Medical Practice
- Wish Valley Surgery
Both of the vaccination centres have wheelchair access and there is an option available at the Headcorn Aerodrome for those who are very vulnerable or frail to be vaccinated in their car, while a GP oversees the 15 minute monitoring period.
Patients registered at Woodlands Health Centre are receiving their vaccinations at Tonbridge Baptist Church, Darenth Avenue, Tonbridge, TN10 3HZ.
There is wheelchair access at this site.
What about people who are housebound?
Anyone who is registered with their GP as being housebound will be contacted by their local GP network who will arrange a home visit.
Are there enough vaccines?
As you will have seen in the national media, there is a huge effort to manufacture vaccines and as a country we are on track to offer a vaccination to the first four groups by the 15th February target date.
Vaccines are complex to manufacture, each batch needs to be independently tested and all of the manufacturers have warned that there will be some day to day variation in supplies. They are not held in stock but are being deployed as soon as they are released, and this means that occasionally there will be interruptions to supply. Where this has happened locally it has been resolved very quickly – usually within 24 hours – and people have had their vaccine shortly after.
Can I choose which vaccine I take?
It is not possible to offer a choice of vaccine. Vaccine centres are being sent batches as they become available. If you have your first injection with one type of vaccine, your second vaccine will be of the same type.
Is there a charge for the vaccine?
The COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge on the NHS.
The NHS will never ask for:
- your bank account or card details
- your pin or banking password
- copies of personal documents to prove your identity such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips when booking an appointment. Please note that when attending your appointment you may still need proof of identification for confirmation but no copy of it will be made.
If you think you have been a victim of fraud or identify theft, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
Additional information on the vaccine
You can find further information on the vaccination programme in Kent and a very useful Q&A here.