'Many, many lives have been saved': Half of adults in South Tyneside have now been vaccinated against Covid-19
South Tyneside’s Covid-19 vaccine programme has reached a new milestone, as half of the borough’s adult population has now been vaccinated, NHS leaders have confirmed.
More than 64,000 local people have had at least one dose of the vaccine, with many in the most vulnerable groups now receiving invitations for their second dose.
Matt Brown, executive director of operations at NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “It’s been such a tough year in so many ways, but the vaccine effort really is shining a light for the future and giving us all hope.
“We have reached more people than we could possibly have hoped for at this point. Many, many lives have been saved, thanks to the incredible work of practice staff, vaccinators, volunteers and everyone who has rallied round to help.
“I’m often in the centres working as a marshal, and it’s a wonderful thing to see hundreds of people coming through safely, to be taking part in something so historic.
“We’re well on track to reach the first nine priority groups with first doses by mid-April.”
Since getting under way in mid-December, the programme has reached 95% of people aged over 70 and around 97% of care home residents and staff in South Tyneside.
Around 86% of extremely vulnerable patients have also had their first dose – as well as more than half of people at moderate risk.
In addition, more than 2,000 housebound people and carers have had the jab, in a special programme run by community pharmacists, with second doses set to start in late-March.
As the teams work down through the age groups, almost two thirds of those aged between 60-64 and a quarter of people in their fifties have also had a first dose.
Following recent national announcements, health chiefs have now advised people aged 50-54 to wait until they are invited for a vaccine, rather than contacting their practice to ask about appointments.
Matt Brown added: “Practices are very busy, but if you’re in one of the first eight vaccine priority groups and not had your vaccine yet, please contact your GP and they can book you into a local vaccine centre.
“The Government has announced that people aged 50-54 will now be invited to book their vaccine.
“If you’re in this group, we’re asking you not to call your practice to ask about your appointment, as you will be invited in the next two weeks.
“If you receive an invitation to a large vaccine centre like the Nightingale or Centre for Life in the meantime, it is OK to wait to get a vaccine locally if that is easier for you.”
An update on the vaccination programme was also given at Wednesday’s (March 17) Health and Wellbeing Board, which unites the borough council, health trust, CCG and other partners across South Tyneside.
Dr Matthew Walmsley, chair of South Tyneside CCG, welcomed the progress so far and thanked partners for their support.
He added: “It has been a real partnership effort which is what we would expect in South Tyneside I think given the way we have worked over the last few years.
“So well done to all partners for the vaccination effort.”