Newcastle doctors hail ‘phenomenal’ vaccine effort as city moves on to next priority groups
Monday 15 February 2021
NHS leaders in Newcastle today hailed the ‘phenomenal’ effort behind the city’s Covid-19 vaccine drive, as they prepare to move on to the programme’s next stage.
Just seven weeks after Newcastle’s first vaccination, almost everyone in the first four priority groups has had their first jab, with the focus now moving to over-65s, and people aged 16-65 who are in at-risk groups.
Dr David Jones, a local GP and Chair of NHS Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “It’s been a phenomenal effort so far, and we owe everyone involved a huge thank you.
“Right from the start this has been about everyone in Newcastle pulling together – from clinical teams working long hours giving vaccines, to the volunteers and council staff taking on new roles to help us all.
“It’s such an efficient operation in the vaccine centres that it’s easy to miss the huge amount of work that goes on behind the scenes, like community nurses from Newcastle Hospitals vaccinating people who are housebound or in care homes, or hundreds of volunteer marshals helping people through the vaccine process.
“Care homes have worked so hard to ensure patients are ready and supported, while busy practice managers often have to provide detailed patient lists for us at short notice.
“Our libraries may be closed, but the librarians don’t get a rest – instead they are helping to manage a complex rota system and making sure we have the right mix of staff for every shift.
“We still have a long way to go, with five more priority groups as well as second doses to plan, but right now it’s a big thank you to the many people who have got us this far.”
Newcastle has two local vaccine centres led by groups of GP practices and Newcastle GP Services (the city’s federation of GPs), at Newcastle Racecourse and the Eagles basketball stadium. In addition, some people will receive invitations to the mass vaccination service at the Centre for Life.
Christian Townend, Chief Executive of Newcastle GP Services, said: “This is an immense collaborative project in which everyone has played their part – from NHS and council staff to Stagecoach North East, the BlueLine and Budget taxi firms and a big team of volunteers.
“Colleagues at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service are a key part of the team effort, helping to manage operational areas of the centres, like patient flow and supporting volunteers. Newcastle Eagles Community Arena and Newcastle Racecourse have made a big contribution allowing us to use their facilities and even helping us clear snow from the car parks during the recent terrible weather!”
Over the coming weeks, the NHS will start vaccinating the next two groups – people over 65, and those aged 16-65 who are in at-risk groups – before returning to the first four cohorts for their second doses. People in the next two groups are asked not to contact the NHS to ask when their appointment will be, as a large volume of calls slows the vaccine progress down.
If you are over 70 and haven’t yet been invited, or you have previously received a letter saying you are at high risk of Covid-19 (clinically extremely vulnerable), you can call 119 or register online to book your jab.
Front line health and social care workers should have been offered vaccination appointments via their employer – if you are employed, please check with your manager.
Front line health and social care workers who are self-employed (such as personal assistants, chiropodists or physios can register for a vaccination.
Further information, and answers to frequently asked questions about the vaccine, are available at www.newcastlegatesheadccg.nhs.uk.