Newcastle leads the way in vaccination distribution

Newcastle is leading the way in the race to vaccinate all eligible residents. Ruby Story Dartford reports

Ruby Story Dartford
8th February 2021
Wikimedia Commons
Recently announced as the first UK city to vaccinate all eligible residents in care homes against COVID-19, Newcastle is at the forefront of the vaccination process

Since the success, Christian Townend, chief executive of Newcastle’s GP federation, is determined to inoculate the local population quicker than any other city. Townend is eager to vaccinate 2500 people within a six-hour slot, for which he has integrated all 31 GP sites in the city to join forces in distributing the dosages.

30 people are vaccinated every five minutes

Townend convinced the practices within Newcastle to merge on two basketball courts to ensure the inoculation process could continue at a faster pace. This method has been efficient with the technique proving to work with 30 people vaccinated every five minutes.

Talking of the success of the unique GP alignment, Dr Antony Moore states, "Some GP practices are just doing vaccinations at the local church hall every Thursday. You’re never going to vaccinate the most vulnerable people by Easter if you do it that way".

When discussing the new-found method, Townend added, "It’s all about consent and collaboration, to which he has labelled his approach, ‘the industrialisation of the vaccination'". 

Since the government vowed to vaccinate all those over 70 alongside the extremely vulnerable and front-line key workers, equating to 15 million people by mid-February, Newcastle’s distribution rates have soared.

The vaccination programme kickstarted on 30 December last year with further mass vaccination centres set to open across the region in the upcoming months.

33 000 vaccinations were administered in Gateshead last month

Gateshead’s NHS staff alongside council leaders praised the efforts of the region’s vaccine teams after they administrated 33 000 vaccinations last month. The race is on with Newcastle determined to beat North Tyneside, who heralded their 20 000th vaccination last week whilst Newcastle attempts to hit 25 000 by Sunday 7 February.

Alongside the hundreds of volunteers distributing the doses at the converted courts is Dr Jane Carman, guardian of the vaccine store. Carman is responsible for timing the vaccine dosages so that they are taken out of the fridge at the correct time.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine cannot remain at room temperature for longer than six hours, so each vial is labelled with a use by time. Whilst the Oxford vaccine can prove difficult to distribute given the specific temperature, the Pfizer vaccine must be given within three days after emerging from freezing conditions to ensure successful doses. 

The vaccine centre now aims to inoculate those aged over 70, alongside those labelled clinically vulnerable. Frontline health and social workers have also been invited to receive the first dose to ensure key workers such as dentists can still provide a service to local people with safety.

Yet with so many vaccinated it is increasingly vital that the vaccination centres must remain as safe as possible with social distancing regulations maintained.

When talking of attending a vaccination site, guidelines state, "Please attend alone, or if you need support, please do not bring more than one person with you". Alongside this, those who have received the first dose should still follow government guidelines to prevent the spread of coronavirus. 

As each region competes to inoculate their population, the competition is on to become the top city to administrate as many vaccinations as possible, yet with the figures set in place, the North is set to lead.

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AUTHOR: Ruby Story Dartford
Journalist Student studying at Newcastle University.

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