Home vaccine visits get off to a strong start in South Tyneside as housebound people begin to get covid jabs
Pharmacists from across the borough began the first weekend of visits to cover around 1,500 people across the area on January 23.
They aim to complete the list across the next two weekends, with more than 400 people vaccinated on its first day, with that pace expected to continue.
Carers also unable to reach a hub because of their responsibilities to get their jab through the programme.
The 22 pharmacists have been paired up with a ‘buddy’ – a health care assistant or technician from their team – to support them during the appointments, with plans in place to make the return visits for the second dose of the immunisation.
The Gazette and its sister papers are leading the Shot In The Arm campaign, calling on the Government to use the skills of community pharmacists to boost the efforts to get everyone covered by the vaccine as soon as possible.
The homebound project is being co-ordinated by Louise Lydon, the owner of Edinburgh Road Pharmacy on the Scotch Estate in Jarrow, who is also backing our campaign.
She said: “It went brilliantly, without any problem, and it goes to show all the planning and the detail that went into the preparation worked and no stone was left unturned.
"We had access to GP staff through the day and medical records and had access to on-call GPs and it was co-ordinated really well.
"Some of the pharmacists were a little bit nervous, because this is new, and by the afternoon and teatime, as they were coming back in, there was a real buzz about it.
“There were a few tears during the day too.
"We had a visit to a wife and husband, and the relief for both of them that it had been done was huge, and was fantastic, a really brilliant day.”
She added: “When we visited the first patients, they welcomed us with open arms and were saying if they could give us a cuddle they would, or they they’ve said they wish they could give us a kiss – they have been so delighted to get a visit in their own homes.
"As pharmacists, we feel really privileged to be able to do this.
"It’s something we feel passionate about and a lot of us live, work and went to school in South Tyneside and we want to see our patients covered as quickly as possible.”
She said the pharmacies were well placed to help in the programme, already delivering the influenza jab each year and travel vaccinations.
They have added to their skills by taking the national training covering coronavirus, as well as learning about the differences in how to handle the two formulations.
Louise added: “There's definitely a lot of energy from our pharmacists and we really want to get involved.
"This is a way we can contribute to our health teams in South Tyneside and we already do excellent work alongside our GP colleagues and community pharmacies go hand in hand with this project.”