Healthcare leaders in Sunderland are leading ‘herculean’ efforts to vaccinate 80,000 people in the City before the end of December.
Following the outbreak of the Omicron variant in the UK, the Government announced its plans to accelerate the COVID-19 booster campaign on Sunday evening.
Since then, NHS staff working in primary care have been working round the clock to urgently expand the vaccination programme with vaccinators in Sunderland now facing the mammoth task of administering 80,000 COVID-19 booster jabs by New Year’s Eve.
The opening hours of vaccination hubs across Sunderland are being extended and staff will also be working between Christmas and New Year in the drive to get everyone in Sunderland boosted.
Bookings for a booster jab are now open to every adult aged 18 and over who has had a second dose of the vaccine at least three months ago. Patients can book appointments via the NHS Booking System, by calling 119 or via a text link that will be sent by your GP practice.
Over the next couple of weeks, as well as providing booster jabs to people over the age of 18, local walk-in clinics will also be open to anyone over the age of 16 to have their first or second vaccine dose.
The clinics in Sunderland are:
Houghton Primary care Centre
Washington Primary Care Centre
Bunnyhill Primary Care Centre
Riverview Health Centre
Grindon Lane Primary Care Centre
Millfield Medical Centre (Saturday and Sunday only)
Pallion Health Centre (Monday to Friday)
More details on clinic dates and times can be found at www.sunderland.gov.uk/vaccine-walkin
The Sunderland COVID-10 Vaccination Programme is co-ordinated through a partnership between NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group, the local Primary Care Network and the Sunderland GP Alliance.
Patients are being reassured that GP services will be continuing to operate as usual for both routine and urgent appointments but the public are being urged to use all NHS services sensibly during the extremely busy winter period.
Dr Ian Pattison is a practising GP in the City and Chair of Sunderland CCG. He said: “Whilst many practice staff are being redeployed to support the mass vaccination efforts over the next few weeks, I want to reiterate that GPs across Sunderland are still here to make sure patients get whatever care they need.
“All GP practices will still offer both routine and urgent or same day appointments if this is the advice following telephone triage or clinical review and GPs will still see patients face-to-face where appropriate. All we ask is, please be patient with us over the next three weeks. We are working as hard as we can with the resources we have – so please be kind to our staff.
“As always, the NHS is here for you and if you need to see a GP on an evening or a weekend, you can book an urgent appointment with the Sunderland Extended Access Service via your GP practice or by calling NHS 111.”
Last year, during the initial vaccination roll-out, Sunderland was among a number of areas of the country singled out for praise by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the vaccination efforts to protect the vulnerable.
Dr Pattison added “We have always been at the forefront of the vaccination programme and I have no doubt that our teams will step up to this new challenge, as they always do.
“If you haven’t had your COVID-19 vaccine I would urge you to do so. It is never too late to get protected and the vaccine is the best form of defence we have.”