Now pharmacy students from the University of Sunderland joined the dedicated team, dedicating their weekends to help the vaccination program reach vulnerable patients, housebound individuals, and carers.
Buddying alongside the 22 community pharmacists, the students helped with supporting patients, organising appointments, pre-vaccine medical questionnaires, and inputting data.
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It comes after we ran our Shot in the Arm campaign urging the Government to use the UK’s network of community pharmacies to help deliver the vaccine roll-out.
Naomi Dover, 22, from South Shields, is a pre-registration Pharmacist at the Edinburgh Road Pharmacy in Jarrow.
She said: "I felt the urgency to help during the pandemic and to do something good for the community and helping out with the vaccine programme.
"The response from patients has been very positive. Most are so pleased to get their vaccine within their home and hopefully to soon have family and friends be able to visit.
"It’s been so rewarding to be part of this and to bring some positivity in these patients lives."
Third year pharmacy student Jodi Inch, 38, from Gateshead said: "It has been amazing, I am so privileged to be involved and have the opportunity to help our community's vulnerable patients.
"I am immensely proud – and as a student to have the opportunity to get involved and take on a responsible role it's been great to be so involved.
"I'm sad it's coming to an end, but it also shows things are moving forward, which is a positive sign."
Rebecca Gair, 22, from Sunderland, who is a fourth year student, said: "There's a lot more to pharmacy than people think. It's been rewarding and amazing to see how many pharmacists have come together to provide the vaccine to the community and vulnerable patients.
"I am so proud to enter the profession and to go into these teams in my future career."
The pharmacy students have experienced first-hand working with the team, having the 1-1 interaction with patients, and seeing how the vaccination is helping during the covid-19 pandemic.
Kathryn Davison, a principal lecturer in the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at University of Sunderland, said: “It is extremely inspiring to see the work being done by community pharmacists in South Tyneside to roll the Covid vaccination programme in patients’ homes.”
She added: "I am extremely proud to see our own students taking an active and important role in mobilising and helping with the programme, they are the future of our workforce and fantastic ambassadors for the University of Sunderland."
Matt Brown, Executive Director of Operations at NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “The pharmy army are making such a difference for our local NHS, helping some of our most vulnerable patients.
"It's wonderful to see so many people coming together to work on the housebound vaccinations. The pharmacy students have been a great asset to the team and have allowed us to make great progress with the vaccine in South Tyneside.
“We have now given over 95,000 vaccine doses to South Tyneside residents – and we’re well on track to complete housebound vaccinations by the end of the month.”
He added: "It's important that the community continues to work together following the Government guidance, remembering hands, face, space and continuing to get as many people vaccinated as possible."
:: If you, or someone you care for, are housebound and think you may have been missed, contact your GP practice.