'Turning point' marked as South Tyneside covid vaccinations to start on Wednesday

The road to recovery will begin across South Tyneside tomorrow as the first patients get the Covid-19 vaccination.

Those most at risk will be first in line to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine from Wednesday, December 16, as the NHS on a local level gears up to deliver the largest ever vaccination programme in its history.

Residents aged over 80 – who have been identified as being most at risk – will receive personal invitations from their GP practices for their appointment.

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The first Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccines will be given to people in South Tyneside from Wednesday, December 16.

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The NHS has stressed people must wait for this and are being advised not to contact the the service for a slot until they receive a letter or are contacted by their GP practice.

The borough’s NHS leaders are keen to reassure people extensive work is going on behind the scenes so those most at risk have access to the vaccine as soon as it becomes more widely available in the weeks and months ahead, with the recall process for the second dose 21 days after the first also in place.

To maximise the stock available and ensure no vaccine is wasted during the early stages of roll out, care home staff and frontline NHS workers will also be invited to take up spare appointment slots.

Dr John Lloyd, a GP and clinical director of one of South Tyneside’s Primary Care Networks, is part of the team coordinating the vaccines.

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He said: “The arrival of the first Covid-19 vaccine marks a decisive turning point in this global health pandemic and means we can begin to take the first tentative steps on the long road to recovery and look ahead to the future with real hope.

“We would ask patients, the public and NHS staff to bear with us as we embark on this vaccination programme, which is the biggest we have ever undertaken.

"Much like the NHS response to the pandemic so far, this will be a marathon effort over many months, rather than a sprint.

“As we head into the New Year, we expect the programme will keep expanding as the vaccine supply allows.

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“In the meantime, it is really important that people do not get complacent in the lead up to Christmas – we must all stick to social distancing rules, keep wearing our face masks and keep washing our hands regularly.”

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