RSS statement on tracking Covid-19 vaccination

In a statement made at 8pm on 4 January 2021, the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed to, by mid-February, have vaccinated older care home residents and staff, the over-70s, frontline NHS and care staff and the 'clinically extremely vulnerable' against Covid-19.

Now that this target has been set, it's important that we track it properly.

The RSS Covid-19 Task Force made a statement (via a Twitter thread) on 18 December 2020, setting out how we can track the roll out of the vaccine.

'The Government has said that a dashboard with vaccine statistics will be available next week. This is good news – but the devil will be in the detail. 

We do not know how many people have received a Covid vaccine so far: 138,000 people have received the vaccine in hospitals, but we do not know about other settings. Efficient aggregation of information from all settings is essential.

The plan for beating the virus depends on having a high percentage of the population – and particularly high-risk groups of the population – vaccinated. So a process for counting both first and completed vaccines is essential.

There are three things that we need to see in data collection and reporting – and we hope that these will be reflected in the dashboard. 

First, there needs to be a process for reporting statistics on who has had the jab – and this should be segmented by region, age and risk/exposure group (eg, NHS workers, those with other health conditions).

Second, there needs to be a clear institutional owner for the job of centrally collecting and linking data, monitoring progress and providing regular summary statistics on vaccination uptake.

Third, there needs to be a clear way of communicating progress against the Government’s plan. This will be big news in the new year and so now is the time to plan to get it right.

The NAO’s recent vaccine preparation report (PDF) gives a sense that there is a lack of preparation around vaccine data: there is no obvious mention of the data collection process and a general sense of structural chaos within Government.

Data collection and reporting should have been central to the plan for rolling out a vaccine from the very start. This is essential to maintain trustworthiness, quality and value.

Our concern is that, once again, this has been at best a low priority and at worst an afterthought and that this will mean that it takes longer for the vaccine programme to put an end to lockdowns.'


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