10% of Northumberland population have now had first covid vaccination jab, health chiefs reveal

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Northumberland’s care home residents should all have had the Covid-19 jab by the end of the week, with 10% of the county’s total population vaccinated so far.

Members of the county council’s health and wellbeing committee welcomed the news that around 32,000 people have now had their first injections.

Rachel Mitcheson, from NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group, confirmed that it is not the case that ‘we couldn’t do more, but we are reliant on the supply coming in’, while there is also frustration about detailed data not being provided to local health chiefs by NHS England.

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Providing an update at a meeting on Tuesday, January 12, she underlined that the programme is almost entirely controlled nationally, for example, the 12-week gap between the two doses of the vaccine is now mandated as is the decision to move onto the next priority group.

A covid vaccine being administered at a vaccination centre in the North EastA covid vaccine being administered at a vaccination centre in the North East
A covid vaccine being administered at a vaccination centre in the North East

She also noted that it’s a ‘fast-moving situation with many twists and turns as logistical issues are ironed out’, and therefore the key message is that people need to be patient and wait their turn to be contacted for their vaccination.

Derry Nugent, project coordinator for Healthwatch Northumberland, which represents patients, said: “What we are hearing is a lot of uncertainty from the public and an interesting sub-theme is what is under national control and what is under local control.

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“The issues that have been lodged with us are in two key areas – when and where will I be vaccinated, which is no surprise to anyone.

“The other big issue is travel and we are asking people to be prepared as to how to get to where they need to go to get vaccinated.

“We are hearing about the last-minute arrangements and I know it’s about using up the supplies, but the more options there are for travel the better.

“We want to alleviate problems of uncertainty and maintain momentum.”

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The hierarchy for receiving the vaccine means that the focus is currently on care-home residents; the over 80s, and health and social care workers.

They will be followed by all the over 75s; over 70s plus clinically extremely vulnerable individuals; over 65s; 16 to 64-year-olds with underlying health conditions; over 60s; over 55s; over 50s.

Northumberland’s director of public health, Liz Morgan, backed the current system, which was set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

“I know there has been quite a push to vaccinate other groups, including teachers, but we have to focus on those groups which are at the most clinical risk,” she said.

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“Some teachers will fall into the priority groups, but the bottom line is that children in schools are generally a low risk, and teachers and other occupations, other than health and social care workers, are at no greater risk than other people in the same age group.

“However, once we have got through the over 50s, the Government needs to think about which other groups are a priority.”

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