Stay safe after first jab, say doctors after strong start to Newcastle vaccine programme
Monday 01 February 2021
Keep being careful, even after you get your first dose – that’s the message from doctors in Newcastle as they hail a strong start to the local vaccine programme.
In barely a month since the city’s first jab, teams have made immense progress in reaching Newcastle’s most vulnerable residents, says Dr David Jones, a local GP and Chair of NHS Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
He said: “It’s been an amazing effort with teams working so hard on what is by far the biggest vaccination effort in our history. Our first jab was delivered shortly before Christmas, but just over a month later, many thousands of our most vulnerable people have had their first dose.
“It’s a huge challenge, but we are expecting to reach the top four priority groups by mid-February.
“We’re well underway with over-75s, and work has also started on inviting people over 70. Nearly all care home residents have had the jab, thanks to seven teams which brought together practice staff, community nurses and hospital staff as well as medical students and CCG staff who stepped forward to help.
“The city has more than 12,000 health and social care staff, and we are aiming to reach them all during February thanks to the local centres and colleagues at the Centre for Life site. It’s a major effort, as this group includes not just frontline NHS and council care staff but also groups like physiotherapists and ophthalmologists. If you work in health and social care and feel you’ve been missed, please discuss this with your employer.
“We’re also making strong progress with the programme for housebound people, led by district nurses.”
For some of the patients, the trip to get their vaccine has been the first time they have left the house in 10 months.
Inge, 82, said: “Fabulous – it couldn’t have gone better and it was really well organised.”
Heather said: “I cannot find the words to express the depth of my gratitude to all the people who worked so hard to deliver the vaccine to me. The whole process was superbly well organised, absolutely flawless in its efficiency and every single member of staff or volunteer was helpful, courteous, positive and enthusiastic.”
Peter, 77, said: “It was an overwhelmingly positive experience – every member of your team was friendly, kind and helpful.”
Newcastle has two local vaccine centres, led by groups of GP practices and the city’s federation of GPs, Newcastle GP Services, at Newcastle Racecourse and the Eagles basketball stadium. The centres work flexibly so that practices can make appointments at the most convenient venue for the patient. 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: “From practice teams, district nurses, CCG and hospital staff to volunteers, council colleagues and partners like Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and Virgin Media, it’s an immense effort and our thanks go to everyone. Dealing with the pandemic has brought all the organisations in the city closer than ever, and this will leave us in a stronger position for whatever challenges the future holds.
“The vaccine teams are doing a fantastic job in reaching priority groups efficiently and safely, so the local NHS is set up to vaccinate as many people as supply allows. It’s great that only very small numbers of patients fail to attend their appointments, but the teams also maintain thorough reserve lists to make sure that not a drop of vaccine is wasted.
“We’re making great progress, but we still need everyone to help us by social distancing, wearing face masks and washing hands regularly – even after having the jab, as you could still pass on the virus to others.”