The months-long campaign to get the country protected against Covid-19 was bolstered today with confirmation that more hospitals are now fully ready and prepared with appropriate plans to deliver the jab.
This includes East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust’s Burnley General Hospital and the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust’s Furness General Hospital in Barrow.
These join Lancashire and South Cumbria’s existing hospital vaccination hubs run by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
Health chiefs in Lancashire and South Cumbria have welcomed the hugely positive response from the public to protecting themselves, friends and families against coronavirus, but reminded people to wait for an invite to get vaccinated, rather than contacting their GP.
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.
"East Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, and now University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust are among the first hospital Trusts in the country to receive and start vaccinating people with the Covid-19 vaccine.
"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.
“Being prepared for a vaccine involves a wide range of organisations. We’d like to thank our partners who are supporting this on a local basis including NHS, Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Cumbria County Council and Blackpool Council, our district councils, the military, police and many more.”
"In this first stage of vaccination, those with the highest risk are being invited first. These are people aged 80 and over as well as care home workers and NHS workers who are at higher risk.
“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."
Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director for NHS England, said: “Having witnessed the excitement and significance of the first jab, it is extremely important and encouraging that more hospitals in every region of England are joining the mass mobilisation of the NHS to get people vaccinated.
"The vaccination programme is a turning point for the country, and rightly NHS staff are prioritising those most at risk of the virus, with the programme expanding over the coming months, so when the time comes for you to get your jab, the NHS will let you know and I strongly encourage you to accept the invite.”
In line with expert advice, the phased vaccination programme will see patients aged 80 and above who are already attending hospital as an outpatient, and those who are being discharged home after a hospital stay, prioritised to receive the life-saving jab in the first wave of delivery.
Groups of health providers are setting up local vaccination centres in villages, towns and cities across Lancashire and South Cumbria. Nurses, paramedics, pharmacists and other NHS staff are working 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.
Like hospital staff, 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.
The life-saving vaccine is typically delivered by a simple injection in the shoulder but there is a complex logistical challenge to deliver from the manufacturers to patients. It needs to be stored at -70C before being thawed out and can only be moved four times within that cold chain ahead of use.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has issued further guidance on the safety of the vaccine. This updated information clarifies that people with a history of significant allergic reactions, should not take the vaccine.