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COVID-19 Vaccination Helpline

About the Tower Hamlets Covid-19 helpline

 
Tower Hamlets residents who are eligible for the Covid-19 vaccine will now be supported to book their appointment through a new helpline.


The helpline was set up to both proactively call residents who have been contacted about being vaccinated but who have not yet booked their appointment and to answer incoming calls from eligible residents who want to book their appointment or ask questions. This includes where vaccine centres are in the borough and how people can travel to their appointments.


The helpline is supported by, and linked to GP practices in Tower Hamlets so that the helpline can directly book local appointments for residents.

Read the Tower Hamlets Covid-19 helpline press release


What is the number?


020 7364 3030 - (Please note: only call this number is you are in an eligible group AND live in Tower Hamlets)  

 
Is there additional language support?


The helpline is staffed with call handlers who can speak community languages, working to ensure eligible residents, including those who are digitally excluded and vulnerable, all get Covid-19 vaccine appointments.


Who can use the helpline?

 

 We are currently vaccinating :

  • people aged 16 and over
  • people who are at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
  • people who are at moderate risk from coronavirus (clinically vulnerable)
  • people who live or work in care homes
  • health and social care workers

The order in which people will be offered the vaccine is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Read the latest JCVI advice on priority groups for the COVID-19 vaccination on GOV.UK

 

Multigenerational Household Vaccinations

 

If you are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine (above) and booking locally in Tower Hamlets, you can bring members of your household to get vaccinated at the same time. Please call the helpline to book your household appointments - 020 7364 3030 - it is really important to book because it will be more vaccines for a household appointment.

People can also book their vaccine appointment through the national NHS website and currently the following groups are eligible to book through the national system:



 

 

Important facts about the Covid-19 vaccine

  • All Covid-19 vaccines are safe and effective, take the vaccine you are offered.
  • None of the Covid-19 vaccines contain any egg or animal product, and are vegan, halal and kosher. The vaccines only contain medication – nothing else.
  • Vaccines are our best protection against Covid-19 and our route back to a normal way of life.
  • We all have a part to play to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. Be ready to get your vaccine.
  • Covid-19 is still among us and infectious. The risk of catching Covid-19 is the same as ever for people who are not vaccinated. This is why following the rules and public health measures continue to be vitally important. These include washing hands regularly, wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces and keeping a safe distance from other people.

 


 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


 Below are some common questions people may have about the Covid-19 vaccine.


General Vaccine Appointment Questions


Is there Parking?
 
Information is available on the GP Care Group website: here

Currently limited parking for blue badge holders is available at The Art Pavilion and Cable Street Surgery.
 
I have had a letter from NHS England but don’t want to travel to the Excel Centre, can I book an appointment at more local venue?
 
Yes, you can book an appointment at either one of our local sites e.g. The Art Pavilion or Cable Street Surgery. The helpline can assist with this for you.


The NHS England letters direct residents to an online booking link (below) or to call 119 for the EXCEL Centre or the local pharmacies - which are Lincoln Pharmacy, 124 St Paul’s Way, London, E3 4QA or Lansbury Pharmacy, 85 Chrisp St, Poplar, London E14 6GG. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/
Alternatively you can also self book at Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford using this link https://www.swiftqueue.co.uk/search.php. Open daily 8.30am – 9.30am and 5.30pm - 7pm including weekends in the old IKEA Order and Collection Point opposite Tempur, Zara Home and David's Bridal shops.
The booking team can book the appointment on your behalf.


Can I book a vaccine appointment through my pharmacy?
 
A few pharmacies are offering this option. At the moment in Tower Hamlets it’s either Lincoln Pharmacy, 124 St Paul’s Way, London, E3 4QA or Lansbury Pharmacy, 85 Chrisp St, Poplar, London E14 6GG, and Boots Canary Wharf, 45 Bank Street, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5NY  Please book using this link https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/ or call 119.

 

Do you have Pop-up Vaccination centres?

Yes. At the moment we have Pop-up Vaccination centres at Granby Hall, Goldman Cl, London E2 6DT, and East London Mosque, 82-92 Whitechapel Rd, London E1 1JQ.


Can I book an appointment at my local GP Practice?
 
Not at the moment, the local centres are vaccinating on behalf of local practices. However your practice can make an appointment on your behalf.


I forgot when my appointment was?


You can find it by using the link you were sent by AccuRx. Within AccuBook it is viewable under the Details section of the patient record.


I need help with Transport?
 
AgeUK has been funded to take patients in an Uber. Support worker will help escort patients to centre and back. Call Tracy AgeUK on 020 8981 7124. They will need 48 hours’ notice when booking transport and the appointment should be between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. When you book an appointment for the COVID jab please note we need to book a slot in between 9am to 5 pm Monday to Friday.
 
Criteria for access is below

  • You are over the age of 65 years unless there is a diagnosis of dementia or similar condition.
  • Living alone or with another person who meets the service criteria.
  • Have no family or friends who are able to escort them.
  • You are in receipt of shielding letter.

Referral forms should be emailed to info@ageukeastlondon.org.uk.
 
I’m housebound, can I book an appointment for someone to come to my house?
 
Housebound patients will be contacted by their GP. If you are housebound and have not heard from your GP by 8th February 2021 then please get in contact with your GP to ensure that you are correctly listed as housebound and that your GP has up-to-date contact details for you.


How do I know that this is a legitimate call?
 
The number is on the Councils website and ask the person to call back if they wish to verify the caller. Remember the NHS would never ask for your card details or to make any payments.


I’ve already had my first vaccine/already booked, but I’d like to book my 2nd vaccine appointment, can I book this with you now?
 
You will be contacted by your GP to arrange an appointment.


I don’t speak English, can my child/someone else book my appointment?
 
Yes.


I am currently out of area, what do I do?


You can book your vaccine at a nearby national vaccination centre or you could temporarily register at a local GP Practice and get your vaccine through their programme.


I am shielding in Tower Hamlets but my GP is out of area/I am not registered with a GP, what do I do?


You must be registered with a GP Practice to book your COVID vaccination. This can be done online here: https://www.eastlondonregistergp.nhs.uk/start

 


 

 

Possible Vaccine-specific Questions


Is the vaccine vegan/vegetarian friendly?
 
There is no material of foetal or animal origin in either vaccine.
 
Will you use the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine more because it’s cheaper and
easier to store?
 
Both vaccines are classed as being very effective. The Oxford/AstraZeneca is easier to store and transport, meaning we can deliver them in more places, and we expect to have more doses available as they are manufactured in the UK, so we would expect that most people are likely to receive this vaccine over the coming weeks and months.  


Occasionally one vaccine may be more suitable than another based upon your medical history, this will be discussed with you as necessary by your clinician.
 
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
 
The 1st dose of the COVID-19 vaccine should give you good protection from coronavirus. But you need to have the two doses of the vaccine to give you longer lasting protection.
There is a chance you might still get or spread coronavirus even if you have the vaccine. This means it is important to:

  • Continue to follow social distancing guidance.
  • If you can, wear something that covers your nose and mouth in places where it's hard to stay away from other people.

Pfizer vaccine vs Oxford Vaccine effectiveness facts:

  1. Both vaccines have been shown to be safe and offer high levels of protection, and have been given regulatory approval by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency)
  1. The NHS would not offer any COVID-19 vaccinations to the public until it is safe to do so
  • Oxford vaccine data indicates the vaccine has 62% efficacy when one full dose is given followed by another full dose, but when people were given a half dose followed by a full dose at least a month later, its efficacy rose to 90%. The combined analysis from both dosing regimens resulted in an average efficacy of 70.4%. Pfizer efficacy after two doses was shown to be 95%.

 

Should people who have already had Covid or are suffering from ‘Long Covid’ get vaccinated?  


Yes, if they are in a priority group identified by JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation). Getting vaccinated is just as important for those who have already had Covid-19 as it is for those who haven’t, including those who have mild residual symptoms. Where people are suffering significant ongoing complications from Covid they should discuss whether or not to have a vaccine now with a clinician.
Note that if you have had Covid you cannot be vaccinated for at least 28 days since symptoms first appeared or the date of a positive test, whichever is the earliest. This is not because the vaccine will make the illness worse, but to make sure if your Covid symptoms get worse, that this isn’t confused with any side effects of the vaccine.


Do I need to leave a space between having the flu vaccine and having the Covid vaccine?


You should leave a gap of seven days between having the flu and Covid vaccine.
 
Can people pick what vaccine they want?  


No. Any vaccines that the NHS will provide will have been approved because they pass the MHRA’s (Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency) tests on safety and efficacy, so people should be assured that whatever vaccine they get, it is worth their while. 


Occasionally one vaccine may be more suitable than another based upon your medical history, this will be discussed with you if necessary. Only one type of vaccine is usually available at each visit/clinic.
If you opt to have your vaccination at a National Delivery Centre then you will be offered the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine. The local vaccination service is primarily Pfizer. We expect the Moderna vaccine to be available in a few months. Currently we are unable to offer a choice of which vaccine you will receive.


If a household has a priority group member, such as a frontline health or social care worker or vulnerable person, will everyone living in that household be vaccinated together?   


The current prioritisation plan does not include household members of NHS staff or clinically vulnerable people automatically – although in some cases family members may be eligible in their own right.  


How much does each vaccine cost the NHS?  


The Government is securing vaccine stocks so they will not directly cost the NHS anything. 
 
Can I get one privately?
  
No. Vaccinations are only available through the NHS. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, or a GP surgery local to you, to receive your vaccine.
Remember, the vaccine is free of charge.
- The NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details.
- The NHS will never ask you for your PIN or banking password.
- The NHS will never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine.
- The NHS will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips. 


If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft you should report this directly to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Where the victim is vulnerable, and particularly if you are worried that someone has or might come to your house, report it to the Police online or by calling 101.


Is one vacine better than the other? 


The important point for any vaccine is whether the MHRA (Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency) approves it for use – if it does then that means it’s a worthwhile vaccine to have and people should have it if they are eligible. Both vaccines showed good effectiveness when they were tested in the trials and this is why they have been approved for use.


Is one easier to deliver? 


All vaccines present different logistical requirements, but the NHS has been planning for all eventualities, and people should be assured that the vaccine they will be offered is available because it has been assessed and approved by experts as being safe and effective.  
 
Will the vaccines work with the new strains?
 
There is no evidence currently that the new strains will be resistant to the vaccines we have, so we are continuing to vaccinate people as normal. Tests are ongoing to check this, and if we need to make booster doses to include any new variants, this can be done very quickly, similar to how the flu jab is updated each year.
 
What side effects might I get?


Sore arm, tiredness, headache – can be remedied with paracetamol.
 
Are there any side effects? 


For these vaccines, like lots of others, they have identified that some people might feel slightly unwell, but they report that no significant side effects have been observed in the tens of thousands of people involved in trials.   


All patients will be provided with information on the vaccine they have received, how to look out for any side effects, and what to do if they do occur, including reporting them to the MHRA (Medicines & Healthcare Regulatory Agency) through the Yellow Card Scheme. 
Most side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine are mild and should not last longer than a week, such as:

  • a sore arm where the needle went in
  • a fever/chills
  • feeling tired
  • a headache
  • feeling achy
  • feeling or being sick


You can take painkillers, such as paracetamol, and rest if you need to. If you have a fever for more than four days you may have coronavirus or another infection. If your symptoms get worse or you are worried, call 111.


What about the allergic reactions that have been reported?


These vaccines are safe and effective for the vast majority of people – they have been tested on tens of thousands of people and assessed by experts.  Some people might be allergic to some of the ingredients, as happens with all medicines and vaccines, and all people who go for their vaccination appointment are checked for these types of allergies by the clinician.


What happens if I develop a fever after vaccination? Do I need to self-isolate?


It is quite common to develop a fever after a vaccination. You should only self-isolate if you also develop other coronavirus symptoms (cough or change in smell), have been informed by NHS Protect that you are a close contact of someone with COVID-19, or live with someone who has recently tested positive or developed symptoms of COVID-19. If you develop a fever more than 48 hours after your vaccination or if your fever lasts beyond 48 hours following your vaccination, then you should self-isolate and book a coronavirus test.


Can my carer have a jab?
 
We are only able to offer the vaccine to paid carers. If you have a paid carer then they can also book using this link and see the latest, vaccination sites and frequently asked questions www.real.org.uk/dpv.
If you are a non-paid carer then please ensure you are recorded as such by your GP Surgery. You will be contacted once we have authorisation to move to this cohort of patients.
 
Does the vaccine work on those taking immune suppressants?


Although the vaccine was not tested on those with very serious immunological conditions, the vaccine has been proven to be very effective and it is unlikely that the vaccine will have no effect at all on these individuals.  
 
Does the vaccine include any parts from foetal or animal origin?


No. There is no material of foetal or animal origin in either vaccine. The vaccines are halal and kosher.


I am breastfeeding, should I have the vaccine?
 
You can have the COVID-19 vaccine if you're breastfeeding. Speak to a healthcare professional before you have the vaccination, and they will discuss the benefits and risks with you.


Pregnancy/child bearing age?
 
There's no evidence the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe if you're pregnant, and there is no evidence that the vaccine will affect pregnancy or fertility. But more evidence is needed before you can routinely be offered it.


The JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) has updated its advice to recommend you may be able to have the vaccine if you're pregnant and:

  • At high risk of getting coronavirus because of where you work.
  • Have a health condition that means you're at high risk of serious complications of coronavirus.
  • You do not need to avoid pregnancy after vaccination.  The vaccine cannot give you or your baby COVID-19.

 
Can children have the vaccine?
 
The Covid-19 vaccines that have been approved were mainly tested on adults, so we don’t know how effective the current vaccines are for children. Trials for vaccines for children are currently underway, and if they are successful then we hope that they will be available later in the year. Some children may be considered for vaccination by their clinician if they have severe neurological disabilities and spend time in a residential care facility – but this number is very small.


Can the vaccine change my DNA?
 
No, this is not possible to do with present technology, either in vaccines or any other type of medicine.


Is it safe for me to wait longer for my second dose than people did in the trials?


The vaccines showed really good effectiveness after one dose. The second dose is important for longer term protection, which is why this dose is called a booster dose. Protection after the first dose builds and gets stronger over time and won’t just disappear.