Third covid vaccination centre set to open in South Tyneside with health teams administering both Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines

South Tyneside’s NHS is stepping up its Covid-19 vaccination programme with the opening of a third vaccination centre in the borough next week.

The new centre, based in the Cleadon Park area, follows the opening of vaccine hubs in South Shields and Hebburn during December and marks a further increase in the speed of vaccinations locally.

The first supply of vaccines to Cleadon Park is expected early next week, with all three sites to be handling both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines depending on availability.

The centres are being led by groups of GP practices known as Primary Care Networks.

Medics have said it is an 'exciting time' as the vaccine roll-out sets a pathway out of the pandemic.

Dr Anji Curry, a GP at Imeary Street practice in South Shields, is among those coordinating the new centre.

“We’re really excited to get going, we’ve reorganised our staff teams and everything is in place,” she said.

“We have nurses seconded to the vaccine effort and a great many working in their own time to get people vaccinated as quickly as possible.

“It’s an exciting time as it feels like we are moving forward rather than just managing the pandemic.

“It’s great to be part of something so positive – I don’t think I’ll ever be involved in anything quite as important as this again.”

Patients in priority groups are being invited first, with patients over 80 forming the first group.

A separate project is also making rapid progress in delivering the vaccine for residents in the borough’s care homes.

However, Dr Curry has called for people to be patient as they wait their turn for the vaccine.

She said. “Our vaccinators are working so hard, often starting early and staying late, as well as keeping on top of their already heavy workload as nurses, nurse practitioners or healthcare assistants.

“We are doing everything we can, but delivering the biggest vaccination programme in the NHS’s history is a highly complex process and inevitably it takes time.

“We completely understand that it can be frustrating waiting your turn, but please do not contact your practice to ask for your vaccine – we are working in strict priority order and receiving a large volume of calls which slows us down.

“It’s a huge project, but everyone is working so hard and patients can continue to help us by social distancing, wearing face masks and washing hands regularly.”

Earlier this week (January 6), Director of Public Health for South Tyneside, Tom Hall, updated South Tyneside Council bosses on the third vaccination centre coming online.

“We have been explicitly pushing for that to make sure that there’s equity and fairness across the borough,” he said.

“The Government has given big commitments to vaccinate the top four priority groups by mid-February which is a huge commitment and I hope that they’re able to follow through with that commitment.

“Of course we will do everything we can do at the local level to support that and get the adequate supply of vaccines into the region and into the borough.”

Mr Hall was speaking at a virtual cabinet meeting, which was held via videolink and broadcast on YouTube.

Councillors heard seven borough care homes have been vaccinated so far, with health chiefs aiming to vaccinate all care homes by the end of January.

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