Joint UK Royal Surgical Colleges, Federation of Surgical Specialty Associations and Upper Airway Group Statement
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In the light of the recent changed JCVI and national public health authorities guidance on vaccination priority and increasing the interval between first and second doses of the vaccine, representatives of the Colleges, FSSA, and the Upper Airway Specialty Group have agreed the following:
- The risk to all patient facing staff from COVID infection remains severe, particularly now the new variant is predominant
- The JCVI decision to lengthen the period between doses of vaccine was taken after the most rigorous actuarial assessment of risk/benefit to the population as a whole Public Health advice is clear that it should save substantially more lives than if second doses were given as initially scheduled.
- The profound concerns of some in the surgical community from not being offered the increased protection that a second dose of vaccine delivers are greatly respected and understood. However, they must be considered alongside evidence that after a single dose, significant protection is generated, admittedly with data still lacking on the speed and duration of antibody development in the case of the Pfizer /BioNTech vaccine Such data are being accumulated
- The way to control COVID and its variants remains unchanged It is essential that all surgical and healthcare teams strictly follow current recommendations for Infection prevention and control and maintain appropriate PPE guidance as the likelihood of the patients being COVID-19 positive becomes higher. It is particularly important that appropriate PPE is used in areas of high risk or sustained exposure to high viral load including in wards, clinic, theatre or when undertaking procedures with the potential to generate aerosols.
- We reiterate previous advice regarding caution in surgical practice, especially for those who have not yet received their first dose. As per government advice when not treating patients, it is essential to maintain social distancing and continue to wash hands regularly to minimise the risk of viral transmission.
- We remain confident that the national public health authorities and JCVI are not only using all evidence to determine the most equitable and rapid distribution of the available vaccines, but are also listening carefully to all expressed concerns about the risks presented to all groups within our society. We respect the expertise of government advisors in making difficult judgements on how to minimise death rates during this pandemic
- We urge all in surgical teams to support the national effort to defeat this virus, use social media responsibly, and maintain clear communication with your Colleges and Specialty Associations as experience develops new insight to help this battle.
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