27 May 2021

The GP-led vaccination clinic on the ground floor at Saints will finish on Friday 28 May. However, the mass vaccination service on the first floor will continue. Here's what you need to know if you had your first vaccine with the GPs and are waiting for your second.

The vaccination programme in St Helens has been a huge success and we have now vaccinated over 110,000 people in our borough, with almost 80,000 receiving both doses – with our uptake across all cohorts consistently one of the highest in Cheshire and Merseyside.

The 33 GP practices in St Helens have been working together at the Saints Totally Wicked Stadium and have delivered more than 114,000 vaccines at their site on the ground floor at Saints, with the rest being done largely at the Mass Vaccination Site, upstairs run by St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (SHTK) as well as through a number of community pharmacies.

With only a minority of those in cohorts 1-9 (over 50s and those with a long term condition or clinically extremely vulnerable) left to vaccinate, the GPs have agreed that it’s the right time to stop vaccinating at Saints and return to GP practice to address those with long term conditions that may have not been managed fully during the pandemic, and to deal with urgent issues to ensure that our urgent care system in the borough is fully supported.

We are absolutely confident and have agreed with STHK that there is capacity at the Mass Vaccination Site to vaccinate our remaining general population, supplemented by community pharmacy sites. Therefore the GP-led vaccination service will leave Saints on Friday 28 May and as GPs move out of the downstairs area, the Mass Vaccination Centre will take that space.  This means that our residents will not notice the transition.

The majority of people who have had their first vaccine with the GP-led vaccination service will now have received their second vaccine, as over the last few weeks, GPs have concentrated heavily on second doses rather than new first doses. However, a few patients may be due their second dose after 28 May. We are working with STHK to ensure a smooth handover of these patients.

GP practices are committed to ensuring their eligible patients get their second dose of the vaccine and these people will be contacted by STHK by phone to book them in for their second dose. For these patients, the vaccination will take place at Saints in the same way that their first did, so they should not notice a difference.

In the event that anyone hasn’t been contacted about their second vaccine after 10 weeks following their first dose, they should contact their GP practice directly.

At this stage, we are still awaiting further information from NHS England on the plans for booster vaccinations in the autumn and winter.  However, with the changes to advice on storage of the Pfizer vaccine this may enable GP practices to deliver vaccinations to patients in cohorts 1-9 directly at their surgeries.  Details on this will be shared nearer the time.

Dr Hilary Flett. Clinical Lead for the GP vaccination service in St Helens said:

On December 15 2020, I had the very great privilege of vaccinating Mr Bill Adair, a 90 something Saints legend, with the first Covid -19 vaccine to be delivered in St Helens.  Since then, the GP-led Covid-19 vaccination service at The Totally Wicked Stadium has delivered over 114,000 vaccines to our registered population, in a whirlwind six months.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the GPs in St Helens for their wonderful commitment and support for this programme. We would also like to recognise the huge part St Helens Rugby League Club have played and continued to play in our ability to vaccinate our population, they have been incredibly flexible as their site was taken over by vaccinators.

“Also huge thanks go to the army of volunteers from Halton and St Helens VCA who turned up to every shift to support the clinics and patient attending for vaccination. Many lives will be saved as a result of all of your efforts and everyone who has been a part of this programme and continues to be so should be very proud of themselves.

And of course thanks to all the public who have turned up for their vaccine appointments when invited.  We could not have done this without you!”