A dedicated team known as the ‘pharmy army’ are back in action, providing second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to housebound people in South Tyneside.
The 22 community pharmacists have already given first doses to more than 2,500 housebound people and carers who have difficulty leaving home because of their responsibilities.
Now the caring team are on the road again, giving up their weekends to help some of the borough’s most vulnerable people while making sure that normal pharmacy services are not affected.
Louise Lydon of Jarrow’s Edinburgh Road Pharmacy said: “We’re really excited to get started again. It’s a massive piece of work but there’s such a strong team spirit, even though most of us had never worked together before. Our colleagues are even calling us South Tyneside’s pharmy army!
“It’s so different to how we normally work, but the goodwill has been phenomenal. Pharmacy staff have been incredible, but so have the students supporting us and the family members helping out with driving, so we can concentrate on our clinical work.
“We’ve had our challenges but it’s so rewarding, I feel proud to be part of it. Things went so well with the first doses that it feels like a well-oiled machine getting started again.”
The pharmacists volunteered for the job, starting work in January to help reduce the pressure on other parts of the health system. They are now hoping to complete the work by the end of April, depending on vaccine supply. Local pharmacists are also helping people with learning disabilities by providing vaccines in the reassuring environment of their own home.
Jarrow resident Anthony Rannigan was one of nearly 500 people to get their second dose from the team on Saturday. He said: “I’m really pleased I could be vaccinated in my own home. I can only walk about 40 yards and then need to sit down so it would have been very difficult for me to get to a hub. It’s a great service.”
Suzanne Colton of Hebburn was thrilled to get her second vaccination from the team, saying: “I’m 92 years old, so I was very happy to have the girls come to see me at home – and I feel fine after the vaccine!”
Matt Brown, Executive Director of Operations at NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “It’s a fantastic project and it’s making such a difference for our local NHS, helping some of our most vulnerable patients and being so thorough about reaching everyone.
“We’re making great progress with the vaccine in South Tyneside. Putting together the first and second doses, we have now given over 75,000 vaccinations in barely three months – and we’re well on track to reach over-50s and people in at-risk groups by mid-April.”
If you, or someone you care for, are housebound and think you may have been missed, please contact your GP practice. Over recent weeks the team has worked to vaccinate the small number who were unable to have their jabs on their previous rounds, and this work is expected to continue, as people’s circumstances change all the time.
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.