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Start of the Historic County-Wide Covid-19 Vaccination Rollout

Published on: 15 Dec, 2020
Updated on: 15 Dec, 2020

By Julie Armstrong

local democracy reporter

The biggest vaccination programme in history is being expanded across Surrey today (December 16). Family doctors will open four Covid-19 centres in Epsom, Chertsey, Caterham and Haslemere.

Nurses, paramedics, pharmacists and other NHS staff will be working alongside GPs to administer the life-saving Pzifer/BioNTech vaccine. The Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust is already working with care home providers to get their staff booked in.

As The Dragon reported (See: First Covid-19 Jab at Royal Surrey Starts Greatest Immunisation in History), the Royal Surrey hospital was the first in Surrey to give the jab, last Tuesday (December 8), with the manager of Worplesdon View care home, 69-year-old Graham Allen, first in the county to receive it.

The hospital vaccinated a mix of care home workers, outpatients aged over 80, and staff at risk. Those 80 and over, as well as care home workers and residents, have been placed at the front of the queue by the government’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

Ruth Hutchinson

Ruth Hutchinson, Surrey’s director of public health, said: “That the first local GP-led vaccination services start in Surrey this week is more good news.”

But she warned that infection rates are going up fast in several areas of the county.

“We’ve seen in parts of Kent, London and Essex recently that it doesn’t take much for this virus to take hold and spread rapidly,” she added.

“Without vigilance, we will see rates rising further in Surrey and experience the dangerous knock-on effect of that in our hospitals and frontline services.”

Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said priority people would be contacted by the NHS when it is their turn.

In other parts of Surrey, more practices, community pharmacies and larger vaccination centres will be phased into the roll-out over the months.

Cranleigh village hall is likely to be used as a vaccination centre, though this has not been confirmed by the CCG.

Reverend Chris Bessant, the rector of Haslemere, said: “I can’t tell you how pleased I am to have this opportunity to serve the most vulnerable in our community.

“Those with the greatest need will be the first to receive this miracle of medical science, right in the place where hope is always to be found, in their own parish church.

“Thousands of local people will always remember coming to St Christopher’s for this blessing.”

GP practice teams are working rapidly to put in place safe processes to meet the tough logistical challenges because the Belgian-made vaccination must be stored at -70C.

Dr Pramit Patel, East Surrey GP and clinical director for primary care networks in Surrey Heartlands, said: “GPs, nurses, pharmacists and other primary care staff have been working flat out to prepare for this.

“It feels like a proud day for primary care as we begin the next phase of our efforts to protect people against coronavirus. Over the months, we will be working with local communities to help vaccinate people in safe and convenient settings.

“When you are called up for the vaccine I would urge you to come forward and until then, please be patient and don’t contact your practice or visit any of the vaccination services to seek a vaccine.

“We recognise the round-the-clock work of our colleagues in the NHS to make this happen, and for giving us all the hope of returning to normality.

“But we’ve got to remember the vaccination programme will take time. Now is not the moment to relax and stop following the guidelines.”

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