Over 20,000 COVID-19 jabs have been successfully administered in Doncaster as the vaccination programme continues to roll-out, with health leaders aiming for a target of 70,000 by the middle of February.

Doncaster is on track to deliver first dose COVID-19 jabs to the majority of those over 80, 75 and 70 as well as frontline health and social care workers in February. This also includes care home residents, their respective staff, as well as those who are defined as ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ due to an existing or long-standing health condition.

Coordinated by NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in partnership with Primary Care Doncaster and the various primary care networks in the area (which consist of GP practices), the vaccination began to make its way into people’s arms in mid-December. With clinics running most days, a large proportion of the town’s over 80 population now have some level of immunity to the illness, while care homes have also been visited by the vaccination teams.

Dr David Crichton, Chair of NHS Doncaster CCG and local GP, said: “Following the delivery of the first vaccines (the Pfizer dose) in the middle of December, our teams have worked tirelessly to ensure we are getting the jab into the arms of the most vulnerable within our communities. While it is still early days, there is real cause for optimism and it feels as though we have taken a step forward in our fight against this awful illness.

“In the past few days, we have managed to vaccinate the vast majority of care home residents in Doncaster, while we have roving vaccination teams who are safely visiting those who are housebound, ensuring they get access to the jab. In all, we believe we have vaccinated a large proportion of those over 80, and those who have yet to receive it within this age range will be contacted soon, so please bear with us.”

Since the beginning of the programme, coordinators have used a mixed approach, transforming some business premises and leisure facilities into temporary vaccination clinics, while specifically trained staff have been going into community settings to safely deliver the injection to those deemed clinically vulnerable, as per the Government’s guidance. Most pleasingly, health leaders are expecting to vaccinate all those eligible within care homes by the end of the week.

While the majority of vaccines delivered locally have been of the Pfizer variant, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccination has also been received by some residents. All those who have received their jab have had their details recorded, and the correct booster will be administered as per the 12 week timetable for the second dose.

A substantial number of health and social care staff at Doncaster and Bassetlaw Teaching Hospitals (DBTH), Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust (RDaSH) and within general practice have also received the first dose jab, with the providers creating their own vaccination hubs in order to deliver the injection to frontline colleagues.

Twinned with regular testing for the illness, leaders at both NHS trusts are hoping that this increased surveillance and immunity will drastically reduce any incidence of nosocomial spread (patients catching the illness in hospital), ensuring that wards and clinic settings remain as safe as possible for vulnerable patients.

Speaking about the vaccination programme, Dr Rupert Suckling, Director of Public Health in Doncaster, said: “We have made fantastic progress as a town in vaccinating those who are most vulnerable in addition to the men and women on the frontline of our health and social care services. However, there is still much to do.

“Throughout the next few weeks, further NHS vaccination centres will open. Local people will be contacted when it is their turn to get the jab – so please look out for any correspondence. You may be offered a few places to go including vaccination sites or pharmacies which are located in neighbouring towns and cities. This is simply a way for you to access vaccination quicker. Please don’t worry if you can’t get to the first place should it not be suitable – you will be offered other ways to get a jab soon.

“I must stress the importance that even if you have received the vaccine, you must adhere to restrictions as before and continue to observe hands, face and space.

“Finally, I would strongly encourage every single person in Doncaster to take up the offer of vaccination when it is made available to you. The more that people have some level of immunity to COVID-19, the quicker we will be able to put these current challenges behind us.”

Thanks to the herculean efforts of so many people across the region, as of 14 January 2021, the North East and Yorkshire region is the second highest vaccinator in the country with 433,045 vaccines delivered so far. Almost 50% of those are over 80 year olds and the remainder are frontline NHS and social care staff. Early indications are that, subject to vaccine supplies, the area is on target to have vaccinated the top four priority groups outlined by Public Health England (estimated to be over 280,000 people) by mid-February.

Dr Crichton continues: “Throughout the next few days, we are expecting heavy rain as storm Christoph rolls in. Can I remind all those scheduled to get the jab to keep their appointment only if it is safe. If you need to rebook, this can be organised. We are working hard to ensure there is minimal wastage of the vaccine, so if you cannot make it, we have contingencies in place ensuring we are getting the jab into the arms of those deemed a priority.

“Finally, I would like to thank our vaccinators, coordinators, volunteers and all those who have opted to get the jab so far. We still have an enormous task ahead of us, but alongside our partners locally, regionally and nationally, we have made a great start. Let’s keep it up and let’s do it for Doncaster.”

For more information on the COVID-19 vaccination, such as who is eligible and when you can expect to receive it, please head to: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/coronavirus-vaccine/