South Tyneside’s Covid-19 programme moved up a gear on Tuesday as the NHS opened the borough’s second vaccination centre, less than a week after the first. The first batch of 975 Pfizer vaccines arrived on Monday, with the first patients receiving the jab at Glen Primary Care Centre on Tuesday morning.
The vaccine is being provided to people who are most at risk by groups of GP practices known as Primary Care Networks. Practices in Hebburn and Jarrow have come together to staff the centre, building on the success of the centre already working in South Shields.
“It’s a privilege to be part of such an incredible effort,” said Dr Duane Cordner, a Jarrow GP and one of the team running the new centre. “It’s like there’s light at the end of the tunnel – the team have been champing at the bit to get started.
“I’ve watched the South Shields vaccine team in action and it’s wonderful to see – practice staff, agency staff and volunteers all working so hard, and so well together. The team has done a tremendous job and I thank them all.
“The system has been planned with great care – there’s an appointment every five minutes, with stewards on hand to guide patients through to the nurse or healthcare assistant who provides their vaccine.
“Almost 1,500 have had the first vaccine already, and not a single patient has missed their appointment. Please don’t call your practice asking when you will be called – we need everyone to be patient and wait for your invitation.”
The borough’s new vaccine centre will be followed by a third in January, as practices continue to step up the programme.
Priority groups for the vaccine were identified nationally by the NHS, with people over 80 being invited first, and care home staff and frontline NHS staff taking up spare appointment slots. Everyone who receives the Pfizer vaccine will also need a booster jab after 21 days for it to be effective.
“It’s just what the country needs, to get back to something like normality,” said Dr Cordner. “It will be a long process, but everyone is working so hard and patients can continue to help us by social distancing, wearing face masks and washing hands regularly.
“Covid has changed life as we know it – but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”