Door-to-door vaccine project gets underway in South Tyneside as pharmacists aim to reach 1,500 housebound patients in just four weekends
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The team say they are excited to be starting the unique project.
Patients get a phone call to notify them three or four days before their jab. The pharmacists will then arrive wearing NHS ID and will answer any questions patients may have.
Carers who are ‘house-tied’ – people who find it difficult to leave home because of their caring role – can also get the vaccine this way
It comes as the Shields Gazette and its sister papers run the Shot in the Arm campaign calling on the Government to enlist the UK’s network of 11,000 local pharmacies to help bring the vaccine closer to people’s doorsteps.
Louise Lydon, a pharmacist in Jarrow and Secretary of Gateshead and South Tyneside Local Pharmaceutical Committee, said pharmacy teams could “reach hundreds of people in a weekend” while keeping their main services running, despite being very busy during the pandemic,
“It’s a real team effort,” she said. “I’d like to thank all the pharmacists for everything they are doing, as they are so committed and keen to help."
She added: “It’s been intense at times with a lot to work through, but it feels like an honour to be involved in something so life-changing.”
The project begins amid widespread anger that vaccine supplies are reportedly being diverted from the North East to parts of the country where the jabs have been administered at a slower rate, leading to claims the region is being punished for its success in the roll-out.
Louise said the idea for the South Tyneside home vaccine scheme came out of our regular discussions with GPs, the South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group and South Tyneside Council.
Dr Anji Curry, a GP in South Shields, said: “This is a really unique approach - we’re not aware of any other areas delivering the vaccine this way.
"Here in South Tyneside, our community pharmacists are very closely integrated with local practices, so they are well placed to play such a key role and reduce some of the pressure on other parts of our health system.”
Health chiefs have, however, warned households to beware of unscrupulous vaccine scams.
The vaccine is free, and only available on the NHS. Anyone asking for payment for the vaccine is committing a crime. The NHS will never ask you to press a button on your keypad or send a text to confirm you want the vaccine, and will never ask for payment or for your bank details. If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up.
If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft you should report this directly to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Where the victim is vulnerable, and particularly if you are worried that someone has or might come to your house, report it to the police online or by calling 101.