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Looking back over the first three months of the vaccination programme – a PCN perspective

Looking back over the first three months of the vaccination programme – a PCN perspective

On 29th December 2020, Mrs Barbara Lawton, 95 from Clitheroe was one of the first to have the Covid vaccination. She is a retired School Teacher at Saint Michael and John’s RC School, Clitheroe.

Now twelve weeks on, from 18th March, 2021, people across Whalley, Clitheroe and Slaidburn will start to receive their second vaccines.

How have the first 3 months gone? This article goes behind the scenes and looks at the team working together from all 4 Ribblesdale practices.

Dr Russell Robb, PCN Clinical Director, said: “Our vaccination programme has been delivered by the four Ribblesdale GP practice teams (Sabden and Whalley Medical Centre, Slaindurn Country Practice, Pendleside Medical Centre, Castle Medical Group) working in partnership with a clinic base  at Clitheroe Health Centre. Those with the highest risk, those aged 80 and over, were invited first. Care home workers and residents followed shortly after.

“We have put in place a considerable amount of planning and preparation to ensure that the programme has run smoothly, and we have vaccinated over 13,000 people aged over 60.  Thanks to all the staff and Clitheroe Rotary who have helped to marshal the clinics, it has been a real team effort.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel, but I do urge everyone to continue to follow the guidance by washing their hands, wearing a mask and keeping a social distance.”

The team have been delivering clinics every week since late December. The number of clinics per week have depended on how much vaccine has been delivered and which type it is.

The practice staff are the first part of the team who get the ball rolling. Once we get notification of a delivery, their role is to get the staff rotas arranged and then contact patients to get them booked into a clinic. For the first couple of weeks, this was all done via telephone but more recently has been automated.

The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine was used for the first 2 weeks of the vaccination programme. This comes in a multiple dose vial and contains a frozen suspension that does not contain preservative and must be thawed and diluted prior to administration. This needs to be done by specially trained health professional. Once delivered, the vaccines have to be used within 3 days.

The Pfizer vaccine cannot be transported from the Health Centre and so people in Care Homes and the housebound could not be vaccinated until the Astra Zeneca vaccine arrived. This role out began on 6th January when teams of GPs and nurses visited people across the patch.

The clinics themselves have been run by Doctors and nurses from all 4 practices.

Dr Chris Dalton from Whalley Medical Centre commented: “The four Ribblesdale practices have always worked well together, but this vaccination programme has meant even closer working. It has been a real pleasure to deliver this programme to support our local population.”

One very important role, signposting people around the Health Centre has been carried out by the volunteers from Clitheroe Rotary. Close to 200 people have signed up to support the clinics. The first week meant those in the car parks had to had to brace temperatures of -3.5 degrees and freezing fog. As the spring approaches, hopefully we look to better days ahead.