South Tyneside pharmacists give up their weekends to vaccinate thousands of housebound people and their carers

Pharmacists in South Tyneside are giving up their weekends to vaccinate housebound patients in a unique project.

The initiative takes place over four weekends beginning January 23, with 22 community pharmacists visiting around 1,500 people who are registered as housebound.

Local GP practices have provided lists of housebound patients, and the team has arranged them into groups to minimise travel time.

Carers who find it difficult to leave home because of their dedicated role and are ‘house-tied’, can also receive the vaccine this way.

Jarrow pharmacist Louise Lydon is among those taking part in the home vaccination scheme.

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The news comes after the launch of the Gazette’s ‘Shot in the Arm’ campaign, which urges the Government to use the UK’s 11,000 high street pharmacies to help the national covid vaccine effort.

Louise Lydon is a pharmacist in Jarrow and secretary of the Gateshead and South Tyneside Local Pharmaceutical Committee. She is from the Lydon Pharmacy Group, which has a shop on Edinburgh Road.

She said: “We’ve had a fantastic response from pharmacists. There’s a real passion from everyone to play our part.

“Pharmacies are very busy during the pandemic, but we can reach hundreds of people in a weekend without affecting our main service.

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The Shot in the Arm campaign is calling for pharmacies to be approved to distribute the Covid-19 vaccine.

“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. We’re really excited to get started.”

“It’s a real team effort. The idea came out of our regular discussions with GPs, the Clinical Commissioning Group and the council.

“I’d like to thank all the pharmacists for everything they are doing, as they are so committed and keen to help.

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“Patients will get a phone call to notify them three or four days before their jab. The pharmacists will arrive wearing NHS ID and will be happy to help if you have questions.”

The Edinburgh Road Pharmacy in Jarrow is among those taking part.

South Shields GP Dr Anji Curry added: “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.”

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The Gazette is running its ‘Shot in the Arm’ campaign, urging the Government to use high-street chemists to help the national vaccine effort.