Mobile vaccination van will help roll out booster jab in Northumberland

A mobile vaccination van and special gritting routes are among the tools in the arsenal of Northumberland health chiefs preparing to roll out the Covid booster programme.

The county council is determined to ensure everyone gets a booster jab by the end of next month.
The county council is determined to ensure everyone gets a booster jab by the end of next month.

Storm Arwen left thousands of household cut off from power, communications and water links, just as the country was gearing up for a major vaccination booster programme.

But chiefs responsible for the jab rollout are confident they will still be able to ensure doses get dished out to anyone who needs one.

“We are going to have to work around around the weather,” said Liz Morgan, director of public health at Northumberland County Council.

“We wouldn’t want people to put themselves at risk travelling in adverse weather conditions to have the vaccine, because otherwise we might end up in a position where the risk of travelling to get your vaccine is a higher risk than getting Covid.

“But I think we can manage that, depending on the weather forecasts.”

Almost 4,000 homes in the county are without power a week after Storm Arwen battered the region, with suggestions repairs may not be fully completed until the New Year.

In the meantime, clinicians are at the beginning of the latest phase of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, with every adult promised the offer a booster jab appointment by the end of January.

As well as a mobile vaccination van ready to be called into service to get doses to the most isolated homes and communities, the local authority’s fleet of gritters is also gearing up to ensure routes to key vaccination centres are kept clear.

Northumberland has consistently topped the rankings for English counties to have vaccinated the greatest proportion of their populations.

Morgan added: “We work closely with our CCG colleagues to make sure that the roads to the vaccination sites are gritted and that we can continue to maintain access to those.

“We were doing that you were doing that at the beginning of last year and we’ll continue to do that.

“Obviously, Storm Arwen has caused a huge amount of disruption, we’ve still got a significant number of households with no electricity, or communications or water.

“We’re working really hard as a local authority to make sure that we’ve got contact with vulnerable people in our communities, to make sure they’re okay.”