Every GP practice in Devon will have a vaccination site in operation by the end of the week as the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines gathers pace.

    Every GP practice in Devon will have a vaccination site in operation by the end of the week as the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines gathers pace.
    Four more sites will come on board, in addition to the 16 already operational, Dr Paul Johnson, chairman of the Devon CCG, told Thursday’s Team Devon Local Outbreak Engagement Board meeting.
    The committee also heard that there was a target for all care home residents in Devon to have received the first dose of the vaccine by no later than the end of the month – although the Government have subsequently set a January 24 target – and that pharmacies plus two mass vaccination site were also set to be operational once approval is granted.
    Dr Johnson said: “I am optimistic that all care homes will be done by the end of the month and we have plans to do that even sooner. We will get people vaccinated as quickly as possible.
    “The first stage of vaccinations are not about coming out of lockdown but savings lives. Care homes account for one a third of all death, and you have to vaccinate 20 people to save one life. Another third in those over 80s, and if you are under 50 and no pre-existing health conditions, you have to vaccinated 47,000 people to save one life.”
    He said that hospitals are vaccinating staff and over 80s who can attend the hospital or attending for other reasons  and that GP practices have 16 active sites and with four coming on board this week, which will cover every GP practice across the county.
    Dr Johnson added: “People have been frustrated when they have not seen one in your area, but we had to phase it so that the vaccine supply is reliable and consistent. While frustrating, it has been a necessity.
    “We are seeing more vaccines into the county and we will get the top four cohorts done in a short period of time. Every GP practice has a site, but for some will require some travel, for instance Moretonhampstead residents have to travel to Okehampton, but vaccines are still available to them but not as local to them at the moment.
    “We have a number of pharmacies who are interested and we hope to have two mass vaccinations sites in line with the ones opened recently. We are making plans to make them ready to go as soon as we have NHS England authorisation to do so.”
    But he added: “Vaccinations not a reason to relax the approach to social distancing. That you get a vaccine does not mean you can lower your guard.”
    Allaying fears over the decision to delay the second dose, Dr Johnson said that after about 10-14 days, you get around 80 per cent protection, which doesn’t seem to be waning.
    He added: “The flu vaccine is only around 60 per cent effective so it is better than that. This doesn’t put people at significant risk and doubles the number of people who we can get vaccinated at this first stage.”
    Sally Slade, Director of Integrated Children’s Services, added: “We have 282 care homes in Devon and we commenced the first whole homes just before Christmas and before Christmas and New Year, we vaccinated most of the homes with more than 50 residents.
    “We are now doing the medium and small sized homes in January which is a big challenge but an effort across the system to work best as possible.”
    One of the four new primary care vaccination sites will be Sherborne House in Newton Abbot, which will serve the GP practices of Newton Abbot but also those in the surrounding areas of Bovey Tracey, Kingsteignton, Chudleigh, Kingskerswell and Ipplepen.
    The property, which is currently unoccupied but which was due to have its first tenants in the coming months, has been opened up for NHS primary care partners to roll out the first vaccinations for residents in areas of Newton Abbot and surrounding areas.
    Teignbridge District Council Chairman, Cllr John Petherick, at Thursday’s full council meeting announced:  “This vaccination programme is giving the nation, the region and our local residents a lifeline, and the chance to rebuild our economy and our society, following this turbulent and devastating year of the pandemic.
    “We are delighted to be playing a small part in helping this effort by providing a local facility for some of our most vulnerable residents to get their vaccinations and help protect our communities.
    “We have prioritised the use of Sherborne House in Newton Abbot to the NHS to enable them to deliver their vaccination programme in a prime town centre location, and this will benefit not only residents from Newton Abbot but also those in the surrounding areas of Bovey Tracey, Kingsteignton, Chudleigh, Kingskerswell and Ipplepen.
    “We have also given over the use of a nearby Halcyon Road car park to the NHS so that they can provide car parking for those who need it.”
    Cllr Richard Keeling, Executive Member for Corporate Services and Assets, added:  “We’re really pleased to be able to work with our NHS partners in providing these facilities for some of our most vulnerable residents to receive their Covid vaccinations.
    “The availability of this town centre location should make it ideal for residents to make short journeys, and the nearby car park we’re providing will help reduce walking distances for the over 80s.
    “Hot on the heels of the first vaccination centres in the district, we’re hoping to see the further rollout of centres across other parts of the district, and would encourage anyone who has received an invitation to take up this important opportunity to protect themselves from this disease, and set us on the road to normality.
    “As the initial vaccinations will be provided to the area’s oldest and most vulnerable residents, the council is also providing the NHS with the exclusive use of the nearby Halcyon Road Car Park to ensure easy access to the vaccination centre.  The car park will be marshalled by the Rotary Club, organised through the GP’s co-ordinator. Anyone making essential journeys to the town centre is asked to use alternative car parks while this is being used.”
    Vaccinations will start on Saturday and patients at the practices involved will be contacted by their local GP surgery inviting them to attend.   People are being asked not to contact their GP to request their vaccination, as this is being co-ordinated by the practices involved and based on eligibility.

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