South Tyneside Covid jab roll out a 'great success' - despite 'demonstrations and intimidation' by anti-vaxxers

Vaccine bus staff in South Tyneside have faced "demonstrations and intimidation" from anti-vaxxers following efforts to help encourage residents to receive their Covid-19 jabs.

NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) chiefs reported they have had a Covid-19 vaccine bus visiting the borough to try and encourage residents to receive their jabs.

Dr Neil O’Brien, accountable officer at the CCG, said although the bus overall has provided a boost to the vaccination efforts, staff have been forced to deal with confrontations with anti-vaxxers.

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He added work is taking place with police over the issue and to ensure jabs can continue to be administered safely.

Long queues at the Covid-19 vaccine bus parked up in King Street, South Shields.
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He said: "Some anti-vax people were demonstrating and intimidating some staff around there.

"We're handling that and working collaboratively with police to ensure that we can continue with the safe roll out for the vaccine for those people who want it."

The comments were made at the latest CCG Governing Body meeting, which was streamed live online last week.

Pat Harle, a lay member of South Tyneside CCG, thanksed staff for continuing to push ahead with the vaccination work, and the teams in place to support them, in the face of the abuse.

She said: "I'm saddened to hear about the intimidating behaviour to staff regarding the mobile services to give vaccinations.

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"I think it's one thing making known the difference of opinions but another to intimidate staff.

"I'm absolutely delighted to hear that's been dealt with and managed because that must have an impact on staff."

However Dr O'Brien noted despite the incidents, overall the vaccine roll out remains "a great success story", with vaccination rates "very good" in South Tyneside.

He added they are continuing to push ahead with providing vaccines to those who have not yet received them, and this includes first doses as well as boosters.

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Dr O'Brien said: "We are as ever focusing on reducing the health inequalities as we roll out the vaccine programme.

"The mobile vaccination bus has been out and about in South Tyneside trying to promote boosters but also encourages first doses.

"We're still getting a steady stream of first dose people coming through the vaccination programme, so that's encouraging."

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