The first local vaccination services run by family doctors and their teams have opened in Blackburn with Darwen this week, as the roll out of the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history continues.
GP practices in the borough have started to take delivery of the vaccine and more community sites will be going live in other areas from later in the week onwards.
Following approval of the vaccination, groups of health providers have been working round the clock to set up local vaccination centres in villages, towns and cities covering every part of the country.
Like hospital staff, 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 their residents, identified as priority groups for the life-saving vaccine.
The over 80s were the first group to be invited for the vaccination by direct invite from their GPs. The NHS will contact people in each of the priority groups identified when it is their turn to receive the vaccine so people are urged not to contact NHS services.
Mr Thomas Patrick Barrett, 80, was one of the first residents in the borough to get vaccinated in Blackburn with Darwen. He said: “I feel liberated. It means carrying on my life. It is very humbling to see how much work has been done by the NHS. I am thankful for all the efforts and determination. I am looking forward to life returning to normal.”
Dr Mark Dziobon, Burnley GP and Medical Director for the CCGs in Pennine Lancashire said: “We are at the start of what will be the largest vaccination programme in our history and local health and care teams have been working hard to put arrangements in place to allow us to start protecting the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“After the birth of the NHS, the launch of the vaccine is the most important event in its history. The roll out of the vaccine gives us renewed hope moving into 2021”.
“It is fantastic that we are now able to start delivering vaccinations in our local communities and I would like to say a huge thank you to the teams of primary care colleagues led by local GPs who are working together across Pennine Lancashire 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.”
Dr Mohammed Umer, Clinical Director for Blackburn with Darwen Primary Care Networks said: “We are seeing the first local vaccination services start this week. I would like to thank all our GP practices and the team at Local Primary Care GP Federation, our local Pennine Lancashire CCG team, our BwD Council, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Services, and Community Health Partnership. This has been a tremendous local team effort. Colleagues across the NHS are doing an incredible job to deliver what it is the largest vaccination programme in our history.
“The public have an important part to play to help them do this by not contacting the NHS to seek a vaccine, we will contact you when it is your turn for the vaccination. When we do contact you, please attend your booked appointments and please continue to follow all the guidance to control the virus and save lives. It is also vitally important that you continue to get tested if you are showing symptoms.”
Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council said: “I am delighted the first residents in Blackburn with Darwen have received the vaccination. It’s amazing achievement by everyone involved including our local hospital, our local GPs and NHS partners.
“The vaccination is one of the major tools we have in getting back to normal and getting back to the things we love. I urge everyone to get vaccinated when they are called to. I will be getting vaccinated when I am called. I believe it is safe and will be effective.
“But let me be clear. Our infection rate is coming down but still not fast enough. We still need to do the basics. We need to protect ourselves, our loved ones and others. So let’s keep socially distancing, wearing a face covering, washing our hands and getting tested.”