GPs in Oxfordshire have joined the largest ever immunisation programme as local COVID-19 vaccinations start in three areas of the county this week.

Local vaccinations centres in Abingdon, Henley-on-Thames and Chipping Norton will start to vaccinate people in their local area who are over the age of 80.

These areas have been selected to be part of the first wave of 280 GP practices across the country as they have a higher proportion of people aged over 80 than other areas of Oxfordshire.

Those people who are eligible to receive the vaccine will be contacted by their local GP practice and invited to attend an appointment. A second injection will be needed after 21 days.

In Oxfordshire, GPs and their practice colleagues have been working round the clock to put arrangements in place to start delivering the vaccination programme as soon as supplies become available.

In the coming weeks, GPs and other healthcare staff within their Primary Care Networks will start vaccinating as the programme gathers pace. People within these areas will be contacted when the vaccine is available for them and appointments will be arranged.

The NHS is asking people to help by:

  • refraining from contacting the NHS to seek a vaccine; we will contact you
  • attending your appointments (when we contact you)
  • continuing to follow all guidance to control the virus and save lives, including hands, face, space messages

Dr Kiren Collison, GP and Clinical Chair at Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Coronavirus is the greatest health challenge in NHS history, taking loved ones from us and disrupting every part of our lives.

“We are delighted that practices in Abingdon, Chipping Norton and Henley are now part of the first wave of local vaccination sites that will start vaccinating people who are most vulnerable.

“I would encourage patients to get the vaccine when called for it; the strict approval process this vaccine has gone through means it is safe and our best defence against the virus.

“This is the latest step in the plans to roll out the vaccine across the country; other age groups and cohorts will be offered the vaccination in a phased approach, in line with national priorities. In addition to this, we can continue to keep ourselves and others safe by socially distancing, wearing a face covering and following the hand hygiene guidance.”