VACCINE EFFORTS: Surge vaccination update
Syringe, Image: LDRS
Council bosses have praised surge vaccination efforts in South Tyneside across two weekends in August, where thousands of vaccines were delivered.
The move was part of ‘enhanced response’ measures announced by the government to reduce infection rates in the North East and to boost vaccine uptake in areas where the roll-out was slowing down.
South Tyneside hosted an initial trial with 25 public health workers arriving in the borough on the weekend of August 6-8 and being sent to busy areas in South Shields.
This included working with community leaders and local authority staff to address any possible concerns from the public surrounding vaccines, as well as directing people towards clinics.
A further surge vaccination effort was made on the weekend of August 13-15 shifting the focus towards Boldon Lane and Hebburn.
At a full council meeting on Monday (September 6), councillors were given an update on the achievements of the scheme over the two weekends – which included more than 2,600 vaccines being given.
Although council chiefs admitted the number of vaccinations may have been linked to changes in eligibility criteria allowing younger age groups to come forward for jabs, they said the surge work was a “contributory factor” in boosting the uptake.
Councillor Anne Hetherington, cabinet member for independence and wellbeing on the local authority, presented the public health report to full council at Temple Park Leisure Centre.
She said: “I’m pleased to share that the team of 25 staff worked alongside our local Covid champions, local authority and NHS staff to reach 4,500 households via doorknocking to engage with the residents to encourage the uptake of the vaccine and to provide information on where it could be accessed via local pharmacies, vaccine hubs or pop-up clinics.
“Across the weekend of August 6-8 the surge vaccination activity focused on Simonside and Rekendyke, South Shields town centre and our coastline, the team had 1,500 conversations with the residents in Simonside and Rekendyke and over 5,000 in the town centre and on the coastline.
“In addition to this, the team also distributed 200 lateral flow test kits and signposted 50 people to the pop-up vaccine health bus on the Sunday in The Dunes car park.”
Councillors heard that there was no pop-up clinic available for the second weekend of activity in Boldon Lane and the Hebburn areas.
Despite this, more than 3,000 households were visited with staff also able to signpost to local pharmacies and vaccine hubs.
Cllr Hetherington added: “There was a significant increase [in vaccine activity] on the previous weekend [prior to the surge vaccination programme] which was positive news however I would like to highlight a couple of caveats that may have influenced the increased uptake.
“During the weekend of August 6-8 the eligibility was extended to all 16 and 17- year-olds for their first doses and the weekend of August 13-15, all 20 to 29-year-olds were able to come forward for their second dose.
“Therefore the surge vaccination activity may not have been the sole reason for the increase in the take-up and those eligible may have come forward regardless but it was a contributory factor to the increase.
“We can also say that the use of the pop-up health bus was popular among our younger residents which could have also contributed to the high uptake in this age group.”
Councillors heard that further work was being carried out to measure South Tyneside’s vaccine activity with other North East councils to see if further evidence can be gathered to compare with areas where surge vaccination was not present.
Looking forward, South Tyneside Council aims to support the wider vaccination programme in the borough to address any inequalities related to access and uptake of the vaccine.
Cllr Hetherington went on to say: “Overall the surge vaccination work has been a positive experience with a high number of residents engaging with the teams providing positive feedback and responses to the vaccine programme.
“The learning from the activities will be implemented by the health inclusion group to inform further outreach activities and continue to ensure no-one is left behind.”
Words: Chris Binding, Local Democracy Reporter
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