Caring community pharmacists in South Tyneside have made such good progress in their drive to vaccinate housebound people that they expect to complete the first stage of the project earlier than planned.
The 22 local pharmacists, who have been working weekends to provide the jab, are hoping to reach nearly all of the 1,500 people registered as housebound with first doses by Sunday 7 February.
Laura Rowley, a pharmacist at Jarrow’s Edinburgh Road pharmacy, said: “When I heard we were vaccinating 1500 housebound patients, it was just a number – but once you’re inside a patient’s home and they share their stories of how the pandemic has affected them, how much they miss their friends and family popping in, you see the person behind the number. I feel very honoured to be involved in this service.
“It’s been a tremendous effort from so many pharmacists, and the uptake from patients has been very high. People are listening to the advice from health professionals, which is always the safest advice to follow.”
87 year-old Jarrow grandmother June Newton received her vaccine from local pharmacists Laura Rowley and Louise Lydon. June is a popular local figure locally after spending 28 years as a teleprinter operator at Reyrolles, running her own wool shop on Wansbeck Road, and helping out on the school bus service to nearby Epinay School.
She said: “It’s such a relief to get my first vaccine – my sister Judith and her husband Joe got theirs at The Glen, but I couldn’t manage the trip, so the phone call was very welcome.
“I was over the moon to be visited by Louise and Laura, as they grew up just two doors down from me and I remember them as little girls. Their late grandma Lily was a dear friend of mine and she would be so proud that they had given me my vaccine.”
The pharmacists volunteered for their unique role to reduce the pressure on other parts of the local health system.
After their weekend’s work is over, the team will focus on reaching the small number who were unable to have their jabs – for example, if they were recovering from Covid at the time – and those who are newly housebound, before gearing up for the second round of vaccines in around 11 weeks’ time.
If you, or someone you care for, are housebound and think you may have been missed, please contact your GP practice.
Around 500 carers who are ‘house-tied’ – people who find it very difficult to leave home because of their caring role – are also receiving vaccines through the scheme.
The vaccine is free, and only available on the NHS. Anyone asking for payment for the vaccine is committing a crime. The NHS will never ask you to press a button on your keypad or send a text to confirm you want the vaccine, and will never ask for payment or for your bank details. If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up.
If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft you should report this directly to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Where the victim is vulnerable, and particularly if you are worried that someone has or might come to your house, report it to the police online or by calling 101.