The success of Derbyshire's Covid-19 vaccination programme will pave the way out of lockdown in the summer, says a local NHS chief.
However, this hinges on residents taking up their offer of a vaccine when they are contacted and people continuing to follow Covid guidelines and restrictions while they are waiting and after they have had their jabs.
This week Derbyshire has started vaccinating further priority groups, to include those aged 65 to 69 and people aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions which leave them at higher risk if they were to contract Covid-19 – priority groups five and six.
William Jones is the vaccination programme lead for Derbyshire and is chief operating officer at the Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust.
Last week Derbyshire showed that it is leading the nation’s vaccination roll-out, vaccinating the second highest proportion of eligible residents in the whole of England.
Mr Jones has spoken to the Local Democracy Reporting Service about what he believes has led to that success.
He pointed to five core reasons:
Close working with GPs to set up the “wonderful” Derby Arena mass vaccination centre, which is managing both the national booking system appointments and local efforts under one roof – said to be one of only a few to do so
Partnership with local authorities (such as Derbyshire County Council and Derby City Council) to vaccinate all frontline health and social care workers, including the vast number of agency staff
The rapid vaccination of all care home residents and staff, including revisits to homes which had residents who were initially too unwell to get the jab and homes which had virus outbreaks
Thorough coordination between GPs and health services including Derbyshire Health United and district nursing teams to bring together thorough up-to-date information on housebound patients and ensuring those residents are given jabs as soon as possible – making the most of local knowledge
The intense efforts of an army of NHS staff, many of whom have worked and are working many extra hours and those have come back out of retirement, alongside a vast number of volunteers including residents from a flurry other authorities and health services, including East Midlands Ambulance Service. Also looking ot for staff and volunteers to avoid burnout
Mr Jones said: “We are very pleased with the way the Derbyshire NHS system has worked together to be able to maximise the number of vaccines that we have been able to give to the priority groups in Derby and Derbyshire.
“We are all of us fed up, and it is having an impact on us all, of the lockdown. The way out of the lockdown is for us all to work and cooperate together to get everybody who needs to be vaccinated, vaccinated.
“I look forward, like everybody else does, for a time in the summertime where we will be able to get out and about, and getting out and about will be a direct result of the successful vaccination programme in Derbyshire, the Midlands and the whole of the country.”
Mr Jones described the vaccine roll-out as a “marathon, not a sprint” but that it provided “light at the end of the tunnel”.
He also said Derbyshire has balanced the supply of the vaccine, demand for jabs and capacity for vaccinations well.
A new Covid-19 vaccination hub has now opened at Kingsway Hospital in Derby, taking the number of locations in the county administering vaccines to 24.
This includes Derby Arena, more than a dozen GP-led sites, six pharmacy-led sites and hospital hubs at Royal Derby and Chesterfield Royal.
This week, Derbyshire started vaccinating residents aged 65 to 69, alongside residents aged 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions which leave them at higher risk if they were to contract Covid-19 – priority groups five and six respectively.
This is in addition to groups one through four, including: residents in care homes and their carers; patients ages 80 or over and frontline health and social care workers; patients aged 75 and over; and patients aged 70 and over, alongside any residents aged 16-69 who are clinically extremely vulnerable.
Mr Jones says vaccinating priority groups five and six will take until mid-March, after which the roll-out will be expanded to further groups. Groups seven to nine include all those aged 50 and above.
Mr Jones says there is now an urgent push for residents who are carers for the elderly or disabled to take up the vaccine and make themselves known if they have not already been contacted by contacting their GP or local authority – Derbyshire County Council or Derby City Council.
It is local GPs who are largely managing the vaccination of priority group six, those aged 16-64 with underlying health risks which leave them more vulnerable if they were to contract Covid-19. This is due to the complex nature of working through medical histories to work out who should be prioritised and because local GPs will understand their patients best.
The Derbyshire NHS is also asking all patients aged 70 and above who have not been vaccinated to get in touch with their GP.
Alongside this it is urging all those aged 65 and above, who are now eligible to be vaccinated, to make a booking when contacted.
All residents contacted by their GP or the NHS national booking service are urged to book an appointment as soon as possible. Those contacted by the NHS national booking service can make an appointment online or on the phone.
A patient receiving their Covid-19 vaccine at Glossop Cricket Club. Photo: Nigel Wood.
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