The first local vaccination services run by family doctors and their teams will open across Lancashire and South Cumbria this week (week beginning 14 December).Advertisement
This is the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history, and practices in Preston have started to take delivery of the vaccine.
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.
Read more: Parking charges return at Royal Preston Hospital
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
Read more: Prestonians urged to give a gift to those in RPH this Christmas
The community sites build on the work of the scores of hospital hubs which have already started vaccinating across the country, with Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust among the first hospitals in the country to receive and start vaccinating people with the Covid-19 vaccine.
The latest phase of the vaccine roll-out is being co-ordinated by GP-led primary care networks with more practices and community pharmacies in other parts of England joining on a phased basis during December and in the coming months.
Professor Martin Marshall, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “GPs and our teams are about to embark on an enormous challenge, delivering the Covid-19 vaccination programme in the community whilst also delivering the expanded flu vaccine programme and the usual care and services our patients rely on us for.
“There are also logistical challenges but general practice has an excellent track record of delivering mass vaccination programmes, and we want to use this experience to help protect people from Covid-19 and start getting life back to normal again.
“We won’t be vaccinating everyone all at once – it will be a relatively small number at first – but as long as there is supply, GPs and our teams at selected sites will start vaccinating people this week, starting with our most vulnerable patients.”
Find coronavirus stats in your area below
Read more: See the latest Preston news and headlines