This letter is to let you know that yes, we know you exist.
Sorry, when you saw the envelope you probably though it was your invitation to get the vaccine. It's not that. You're a lot further down the list, apologies.
Wait to be contacted
We'll let you know when it's your turn, don't worry. Another letter will arrive looking very much like this one. What we don't want you to do is get in touch and ask when it's going to be your turn. That would just clog up our system with unnecessary paperwork and delay things. So instead we've got in touch by letter to tell you not to get in touch with us, and hopefully that'll speed things up instead.
Please note that if we don't have your address then we won't have sent you a letter. Also if the address we have is incorrect then this letter will not have arrived. NHS databases are ropey at best so it's perfectly possible we have you down as living at an old address, or that someone mistranscribed your contact details from an index card handwritten in 1993. It is therefore crucial that you get in touch with us immediately if this letter has not arrived.
Please note that you cannot pick which of the two vaccines you receive. We won't be telling you which one it is before you turn up to ensure you don't turn down your opportunity beforehand. Do not wait for the Pfizer vaccine because the Oxford vaccine is less efficacious. Do not wait for the Oxford vaccine because the Pfizer vaccine is foreign. It's complicated enough trying to sort the supply chain as it is, what with the need for refrigeration and glass vials and everything, so you'll get the one you're given.
Attend both appointments
It is very important that you turn up for your second dose as well as your first. The vaccine is only fully effective after you've been jabbed twice. One dose definitely doesn't cut it.
Please note that we won't be telling you when your second appointment is. It might be in three weeks as the WHO recommends or it might be in three months because that's The British Way. By extending the gap between doses beyond the recommended duration we can inoculate twice as many people, thereby making the UK's statistics look much better than countries where they're doing this properly. No medical evidence exists to show that this approach works, but equally no medical evidence exists to show it doesn't. What's important is making as many people as possible as optimistic as possible as quickly possible, even if it turns out this fails to slow transmission.
Please note that we will not be providing you with a card or token confirming that your course of vaccine is complete. There are no plans to issue a special badge or wristband absolving the wearer from social distancing legislation. If a police officer spots you coughing with friends on a bus while not wearing a face covering the excuse "but I've been vaccinated" won't cut it. The NHS has enough problems with databases as it is, so don't expect us to be able to keep track of who has or hasn't been done.
Go where you're sent
Please note that you cannot request where your vaccination centre should be. We might send you to a draughty sports hall 20 miles from home, a community centre in a neighbouring town or your local pharmacy. It would be too burdensome to send everyone a letter with a list of options in advance so we haven't. Instead we've assumed everyone has a car, like we did with drive-in test centres, and can drop everything to attend any appointment anywhere. We're just throwing names into available slots, to be honest, because there simply isn't time for fine tuning.
Please note that if you fail to attend your given appointment we may not offer you a new one for several weeks. You have the right to wait until your local doctor's surgery eventually gets in touch and calls you in, because that'd be convenient, familiar and cosy. However we have no idea when your surgery will be receiving supplies because that's an entirely different department, which is why we prefer job lot bookings on a regional basis. Skip your designated two-hour round trip at your peril. You can always get a taxi.
Please wait your turn. We cannot tell you in advance when we'll finally get round to inviting you for vaccination. You may think you're in a high priority group but we might disagree, either because our records are incorrect or because you have an inflated view of your own self-worth. A lot of septuagenarians with underlying health conditions need to be jabbed before we'll be dropping your name into our digital brantub.
If you don't want to wait your turn, please note that it doesn't work like that. The vaccine is only available through the NHS at no cost, much to the annoyance of BUPA and other private health insurance companies. If however you'd like a black market jab tomorrow please get in touch with a suitable backhander and we'll refer you to a list of approved suppliers operated by friends of government ministers.
Please note that one dose of the vaccine is insufficient for your life to return to normal. It takes a few weeks to develop an immune resistance so you should not hug the nurse after she has administered your injection, nor high five your driver on your way home. Do not feel tempted to nip round and meet with family indoors until an extra fortnight is up, and in fact not even then.
Please note that two doses of the vaccine are insufficient for your life to return to normal. It takes a few more weeks to develop maximum immune resistance so you should not whip off your face covering in the frozen foods aisle or organise a picnic with similarly-vaccinated friends. Do not feel tempted to plan a major gathering or book a holiday until an extra fortnight is up, and in fact not even then.
Please note that vaccination is not a magic bullet. You may feel on top of the world after you've had it but that won't be enough to keep the virus at bay. Indeed we currently have no definitive idea what the way out of this health crisis will be. Mass immunisation will help enormously but we don't know if it'll be sufficient, nor whether our gamble in spreading the two doses three months apart will pay off.
It may be that vaccination prevents deaths but not transmission. It may be that infection rates fall but refuse to fade away. It may be that so many people refuse to be vaccinated that herd immunity is never reached. It may be that new variants evolve faster than we can reformulate the vaccine. It may be that the vaccination programme merely enables a new normal rather than the old one. This is a virological experiment on a national scale, the outcome of which remains entirely uncertain.
This isn't about protecting you, it's about protecting wider society. You might be one of the small percentage who still get nasty symptoms, in which case we're very sorry, but if we can reduce all infections by a similar measure then the NHS might pull through. In the meantime we're sending you this letter as a reminder that we haven't forgotten you and to bring a little hope.