Race against clock for Covid-19 vaccine roll out

Following a huge logistical effort involving GPs and nurses from six surgeries in the South & West Herefordshire Primary Care Network, supported by an organised team of local volunteers, the first Covid-19 vaccination programme in Ross-on-Wye was finally completed on Monday night, 21 December, having started early on Saturday morning 19 December at The Larruperz Centre.

Dr Teshk Nakshbandi from Kingstone Surgery vaccinating local resident Leonard Barwick-Clarke on Saturday morning (patient consent given)

Clinicians from local surgeries including Alton Street, Pendeen, Fownhope, Much Birch, Golden Valley and Kingstone, worked tirelessly to deliver the Pfizer vaccine to a total of 359 people on the first day and by Monday, over 1,000 people were safely inoculated.

Pfizer vaccines only have a short shelf-life once delivered to their destinations, so the clinicians had just three days to use all the vials. Staff from the six local surgeries in the South & West Herefordshire Primary Care Network were present onsite to administer the vaccinations which were prioritised for elderly patients, predominantly those over 85 years old, and those working in high-risk roles such as care home staff.

The Ross-on-Wye Lions and Rotary Clubs quickly drafted in a large team of volunteers plus additional resource from the Ross Good Neighbours’ volunteer network to meet and greet patients, direct them to the vaccination rooms and ensure the operation ran smoothly, often standing for hours in the pouring rain.

Dr Simon Lennane, Clinical Director of the Primary Care Network, said on Saturday: “We’ve had a great start to the Covid vaccination programme in Ross this weekend, with teams of clinical and admin staff from all six local surgeries vaccinating 359 high risk individuals against Covid-19 on the first day. Huge thanks are due to the volunteers from Ross Rotary and Ross Lions who kept everything running smoothly, and all the staff who came in to help out. Although we are very pleased to have got started, we have a lot of vaccinations still to do. It is very important to note that it takes 28 days to build up immunity following vaccination, so the Christmas period is no safer. While it is excellent news that our case rate has fallen enough to get into Tier 1, the real challenge will be staying in Tier 1 into the New Year, which is crucial for our local economy. We are still seeing new cases locally, so we strongly advise staying within your bubble over the holiday season, and to avoid mixing with other households. We will get the vaccine out to patients as soon as new batches arrive, in order of clinical priority, but in the meantime, stay safe and well, and let’s look forward to a healthy 2021.”

If you have any questions or concerns about the vaccine roll out, please contact your local GP surgery. Over the Christmas period, if you or someone you know needs to isolate due to coronavirus, and you think you many need help with shopping or medication deliveries please contact Ross Good Neighbours’ Helpline on 01989 313002 or email help@rosscdt.org.uk and one of the volunteers will get back to you.

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