Mass Southport vaccination campaign begins as 99% snap up slots

Sefton’s community based COVID-19 immunisation programme run by local GP practices began on Tuesday 15 December as the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history continues.

Nurses, paramedics, pharmacists, GPs, and other NHS staff from across Sefton are working together to vaccinate those aged 80 and over identified as a priority group. Primary care teams have been working rapidly to set up local vaccination centres and put in place safe processes to meet the tough logistical challenges of offering the vaccination.

GP practices will be contacting their eligible patients when it is their turn to receive the vaccine. 

Marilyn Cull, 85, of Southport, was the first to receive the vaccine.

She said: “I phoned the surgery back up this morning because I thought it might have been just a dream. I was lucky to be the first one to get the vaccine.

“It’s a much bigger risk not to have the vaccination. The staff were really lovely and they made me feel at ease.

“I’ve been coping well but the news about the vaccine was brilliant and I’m glad I got it done.”

Marjorie Grundy, 87, from Maghull, said: “I was delighted to get the vaccine.

“Getting it done was really straightforward. I’m looking forward to things getting back to normal.”

Charles McCoy, 83, from Maghull, said: “I was glad to get the call. I told my boys and they said do it. Everyone who is offered should get the vaccine.

“The NHS has been fantastic through this and you can see people are working really hard to keep people safe. We should be thankful for the work they do.”

Southport GP, Dr Simon Tobin from Norwood Surgery, said: I’ve been absolutely thrilled at the uptake for the coronavirus vaccine. When we rang them, 99% of our most vulnerable patients jumped at the opportunity to have the vaccine and booked appointments immediately.

“I will be urging all our eligible patients (as well as my 84 year old father) to have the vaccine when they are offered it. They will be contacted by their own surgeries so please don’t ring them.

“Yesterday we gave many of the highest risk people in Southport the first of the two vaccinations. People were so excited and really appreciative. There was a real buzz at the vaccination centre.

“Many parts of the UK have not even started giving the vaccine yet – we’re ahead of the game.

“Our local NHS heroes have worked tirelessly to ensure that we get this vaccine out to those most at need. They deserve tremendous credit for their dedication and commitment to our population.”

Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “A great deal of planning has gone on in recent weeks to get ready for the vaccination programme.

“This is an important step in our fight against coronavirus but it is vital to continue to protect yourself and others by following government guidance, by washing your hands regularly, wearing a face covering and maintaining social distancing.”

Dr Craig Gillespie, chair of NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Your NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. All eligible patients will be contacted direct when it is their turn, with an invitation to attend a vaccination appointment and details of where to go.

“It is fantastic that we are able to start delivering vaccinations in local community settings and we would like to thank the teams of primary care colleagues who are working to make this happen.”

The vaccine currently being used (Pfizer/BioNTech) has very specific storage and transportation requirements, so the initial focus from this week will be those 80 years of age and over who can visit a centre in person. Housebound patients and care home residents will be vaccinated as soon as this is possible.

Sefton’s community COVID-19 vaccination centres are being run by groups of practices, known as primary care networks, working together with NHS Southport and Formby CCG and NHS South Sefton CCG.

Community based primary care centres are in addition to hospital hubs, which began vaccinating patients on Tuesday 8 December.  

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, including answers to a range of frequently asked questions, go to www.nhs.uk/CovidVaccine

If you need help with coronavirus symptoms, please visit: www.nhs.uk/coronavirus