Council leader signs Gazette petition urging Number 10 to boost vaccine roll out through high-street chemists

The Gazette’s ‘Shot in the Arm’ campaign has received a further boost with the support of new borough council leader.

The leader of South Tyneside Council, Tracey Dixon, has signed the campaign petition and lent her support to the drive more broadly.

‘Shot in the Arm’ is seeking to push the Government to make use of the UK’s network of high-street chemists in order to help strengthen the national vaccine effort.

The council leader’s statement of support comes after the two MPs in the borough threw their weight behind the campaign last week.

Cllr Tracey Dixon, the new leader of the borough council, has now got behind the 'Shot in the Arm' campaign

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“Any initiative which strives to get our residents vaccinated as quickly as possible is to be welcomed,” Cllr Dixon said.

There are understood to be around 11,000 community pharmacy practices across the UK that could be mobilised as part of the nationwide Covid inoculation programme.

The Government’s has pledged mass vaccination centres within 10 miles of UK citizens’ homes. The ‘Shot in the Arm’ campaign, however, argues borough residents should have to travel no longer than 10 minutes in order to get the potentially life-saving jab.

Certain branches of the Boots and Superdrug chain chemists have now begun to be deployed in the delivery of the vaccines. Yet a number of independent community pharmacies in the borough remain excluded from the national scheme.

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The Shot in the Arm campaign is calling for pharmacies to be approved to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine.

Commenting on how local pharmacies could fit into the area’s vaccine effort, Cllr Dixon said: “The NHS and our health partners are doing an amazing job in rolling out the vaccination programme with the supplies that they have.

"It is a mammoth task but they are rising to the challenge despite the enormous pressures they are facing.

"However, we would urge the government to increase both the speed and size of the actual vaccine deliveries.”

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The new council leader, echoing similar praise from the MP for South Shields, also noted the contribution high-street pharmacy staff have made over the course of the pandemic.

“Pharmacies have been at the frontline throughout the pandemic and they have an integral role to play in the mass vaccination programme,” she added.

"We look forward to seeing them come on board as the vaccination programme increases in scale so that we can protect the most vulnerable and ease COVID restrictions as soon as possible.”

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