GP practice staff in Pudsey marked a major milestone this week, when they took part in the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination programme – the biggest in NHS history.
During the first wave of the primary care vaccination programme, GP practices in more than 100 locations in England are offering the vaccine to patients.
Nurses, paramedics, pharmacists and other staff are working alongside GPs to vaccinate those aged 80 and over, who have been identified as the first priority for this life-saving vaccine.
Like hospital staff who launched the world-leading campaign last week, practice teams have worked quickly to redesign their sites and put in place safe processes to meet the tough logistical challenges of offering the vaccination.
Dr Michael Hall, a retired GP, received his vaccination at Hillfoot Surgery on Owlcotes Road in Pudsey on Wednesday. He said:
“I’m pleased that it’s started. I’m behind the bus pushing along with everyone else now. Today is a good day despite the weather.
“It feels as though I’ve started some sort of fight back, and if it protects me, it protects someone else – this is help for the whole community, not just me.”
Vaccinations were also carried out at East Park Surgery in Leeds. GP Dr Joanne Cummings said:
“Our team is tremendously proud to be part of this huge national effort to protect our patients against the virus.
“It’s been a significant logistical challenge to get everything ready and to keep all our other services running, but my colleagues have risen to the challenge magnificently, and we’re all really excited to be playing our part.”
The community sites build on the work of the scores of hospital hubs which have already started vaccinating, with 90-year old Margaret Keenan receiving her first dose to become a global trailblazer in Coventry just a week ago.
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.
Dr Jason Broch, Clinical Chair of NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group and a GP in Leeds, urged people waiting for coronavirus vaccinations to be patient.
“We’re very proud to be part of this landmark effort and would urge everyone to have their vaccination – but please be patient.
“Patients will be contacted and invited for vaccination – please don’t contact your practice about it, they will contact you. Practices are already running a wide range of services, as well as the Covid vaccination programme, and waiting until you’re contacted will help keep phone lines open for people who are ill or need our help.”
For more information about the vaccination programme, please go to www.nhs.uk/CovidVaccine.