Call for West Norfolk vaccination hub
Efforts to vaccinate elderly West Norfolk residents are stepping up this week.
The NHS is alerting people as to when it is their turn to have the vaccine.
A spokeswoman for NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “A number of local practices are starting to invite and book eligible patients in for the first dose of their Covid vaccine prior to its arrival.
“Those invited will be patients over the age of 80, in line with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommendation.”
The CCG has stressed it is important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before they have been told it is their turn.
And the spokeswoman said she was unable to confirm information about potential local sites in any level of detail yet.
There are suggestions an Alive West Norfolk facility could be used as a vaccination centre, but this is yet to be confirmed at this stage.
Earlier this week, West Norfolk county councillor Alex Kemp said it was “highly disappointing” no vaccine hub has been proposed for Lynn’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Her comments came as the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the James Paget Hospital in Gorleston were confirmed as vaccination hubs this week. The first patients to receive the jab were invited in from Wednesday.
Ms Kemp welcomed the news of a vaccine in Norfolk which would prioritise care staff and vulnerable people.
But she added: “Norfolk has three hospitals and it is essential that West Norfolk, which saw high infection rates during the first lockdown and at the start of the second lockdown, receives priority.”
Health officials in the county have been warning the public not to become complacent, and to continue to respect the Tier 2 restrictions following the announcement of the vaccines.
Councillor Andrew Proctor, chair of the local engagement board and leader of Norfolk County Council, said: “This has been a week of hope in Norfolk, as we’ve seen the first vaccinations taking place to much celebration. I’m sure the people of Norfolk are hugely grateful for the efforts of local NHS and social care staff who are working so hard to get the vaccine to the most vulnerable.
“Sadly, we are by no means at the end of this pandemic though. The people of Norfolk have worked so hard to protect each other and we have to keep going and not get complacent.
“Christmas is fast approaching, and rules will be relaxed for five days, so we need to think about our actions now so that we can reduce the risk as much as possible over the festive period. Do not forget that regardless of this relaxation, the Tier Rules – currently Tier 2 – still apply.
“Please do keep supporting our local businesses and enjoying the build up to Christmas but do this in a safe way – keep making space, observe social distancing, cleaning your hands and wearing a mask”. We can still celebrate but we need to do it differently this year."
As a result of reports and feedback, between 5pm and 9pm today, local authority Environmental Health Officers, Covid support staff and neighbourhood police officers, will be making visits to a number of venues in each district within Norfolk to offer additional advice and guidance and make their expectations clear around the restrictions.
They will be looking to engage, explain and encourage people to adhere to the guidelines but where this fails they may take enforcement action where it is proportionate to do so.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines are made in Belgium and have been transported to the UK.
Elderly people in care homes and care home staff have been placed top of the priority list, followed by those over the age of 80, and health and care staff.
Because hospitals have the facilities to store the vaccine at the necessary -70C, the very first vaccinations are likely to take place there - for care home staff, NHS staff and patients - to lower the risk of wasting doses.
The UK was the first nation in the world to approve the Pfizer vaccine.