Coronavirus: New drive for vaccination support volunteers launched as Norfolk booster effort expands
A new campaign has been launched in a bid to recruit extra volunteers to support the coronavirus vaccination effort across our region.
Officials say they are working to extend clinics into evenings and weekends at existing centres, such as the Shakespeare Barn in Lynn.
But, to do that, they need more NHS reservists, who have clinical or administration skills, and other volunteers to come forward.
Howard Martin, the Norfolk and Waveney clinical commissioning group's director of population health management and health inequalities, said: “By stepping forward again or for the first time, you can help support your NHS and its fantastic staff who are giving so much of themselves.
“Please don’t delay, if you can help, even if it’s just for a few clinic sessions or hours a week, please sign up.”
Bill Borrett, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for adult social care, also urged people to show the county's "incredible spirit" once again in the face of the new Omicron variant.
He said: “After almost two years, I know it’s a lot to ask, but I also know the people of Norfolk have a lot to give and have never backed down in the face of a challenge.
“Each and every person signing up as a volunteer means more shots in arms, more support for the most vulnerable and more medication delivered to those who need it.”
Officials say around 470 volunteers gave more than 28,000 hours of their time at vaccination centres across the region over the past year.
Alan Hopley, of Voluntary Norfolk, added: “We are so immensely grateful to everyone that has come forward to help, but the job is not yet done.
“If you can help please get in touch with our Covid Response Volunteer team now. Just one shift at a vaccination centre near to your home could make all the difference to a neighbours wellbeing.”
At present, all adults aged 30 or over can book a booster vaccination appointment.
That offer will be extended to everyone aged 18 or over from tomorrow.
Mr Martin said: “This next phase of the vaccination programme is the most challenging and complex to date.
“We are putting extra capacity in place to ensure that everyone aged 18+ is given the chance to book a booster by the end of December, when they are invited to do so.
“We are significantly increasing the number of local clinic sessions and appointment slots available for booking in order to rise to this challenge.
“We are focused on fully optimising capacity at our current sites as this is the most effective and efficient way to ramp up quickly.
“We’re pulling out all the stops with extended opening times, additional bookable appointments at community pharmacies and even more vaccinations provided through GP practices - so we can deliver the number of vaccines needed to meet the national ambition by the end of December.
“We have already made an exceptional start to the booster programme which will stand us in good stead, but we simply cannot rest on our laurels.
“The Norfolk and Waveney system is the second highest performer for booster delivery in the East of England but we know that the next three weeks will be incredibly challenging.
“We ask for the continued patience and kindness of local people to support the NHS through this booster ramp up.”
For more details on how to volunteer, click here.