WEST Lancashire GPs have begun offering the Covid-19 vaccine as part of the biggest NHS immunisation programme.
Practices in West Lancashire are among those GP practices that have now begun rolling out vaccines, with groups of health providers setting up local vaccination centres in villages, towns and cities covering every part of the country.
Nurses, paramedics, pharmacists and other NHS staff will work alongside GPs to vaccinate those aged 80 and over, as well as care home workers and residents, identified as priority groups for the life-saving vaccine.
Along with other countries in the UK, residents of care homes in England will also receive their first vaccine later this week after distributors finalise new, stringent processes to ensure safe delivery of the PfizerBioNTech vaccine.
Like hospital staff, who launched the world-leading campaign, practice teams are working rapidly to redesign their sites and put in place safe processes to meet the tough logistical challenges of offering the vaccination.
The NHS will contact people in the priority groups when it is their turn to receive the vaccine.
Dr Darran Harris, a local GP and clinical lead for the Covid-19 vaccination programme in West Lancashire, said: “After an extremely challenging year for everyone, the roll out of the vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel.
“It has been an incredible, collaborative effort right across the health system to get us to this stage where we are now able to roll out the vaccine to those most vulnerable residents in West Lancashire.
“Patients will be contacted and invited for a vaccination – we would urge them not to contact their practice enquiring about vaccination, we will contact them.”
On Tuesday, December 16 Barbara McCarthy claimed the honour as the first resident in West Lancashire to have the new Covid-19 vaccine.
Barbara said: “I am hugely privileged to be the first person vaccinated in West Lancashire. It has been such a bad year for so many people and I have had to isolate and shield to keep myself safe, but this new vaccine is the light for us all.”
Patients will receive a letter from the NHS when it is time for them to have their vaccine, and it is “vitally important” that when they have their date and time that they do not arrive earlier than stated on their letter. Social distancing safety measures are still “vitally important”, and to help ensure that vaccine sites comply with safe social distancing measures, patients must arrive on time and not before or after their stated date and time.
Jane Scattergood, Covid-19 vaccination director for Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System, said: “We are at the start of what will be the largest vaccination programme in our history and local teams are working hard to put arrangements in place to allow us to start protecting the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“It is fantastic that we are now able to start delivering vaccinations within community settings locally and we would like to say a huge thank you to the teams of Primary Care colleagues who are working together across Lancashire and South Cumbria to make this happen.
“The programme will continue to expand over the coming days, weeks and months, bringing vaccination much closer to everyone – but this will be a marathon, not a sprint.
“Being prepared for a vaccine involves a wide range of organisations. We’d like to thank our partners who are supporting this on a local basis including the NHS, Lancashire County Council, Cumbria County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and Blackpool Council, our district councils, the military, police and many more.
“In this first stage of vaccination, those with the highest risk are being invited first. These are people aged 80 and over as well as care home workers and NHS workers who are at higher risk.
“We’d remind the public to please not contact the NHS to try and get a vaccine, we will contact you to arrange an appointment.”