A health chief has hailed the heroic effort to protect Cheshire's most vulnerable residents from COVID-19 and signalled the determination to drive a reduction in health inequalities via the vaccine roll-out.
All over 70s, frontline health and care staff, older care home residents and people classed as clinically extremely vulnerable have now been offered a COVID-19 vaccination – less than 10 weeks after Mona Thomas, 92, became the first person to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in Cheshire.
From today, people aged 65 and over and those aged 18-65 with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk will start to be contacted by the national booking service and / or GP to invite them for a COVID-19 vaccination.
Clare Watson, Accountable Officer for NHS Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "Incredibly efficiently and effectively, health and care staff have joined forces to help protect our most vulnerable residents from COVID-19. Their determination and dedication is outstanding and something we are all very proud of and grateful for.
"Supported by an army of volunteers, we have successfully established 18 GP-led vaccination centres, four hospital hubs and five pharmacy-led sites across the county and have vaccinated residents in 172 care homes as well as hundreds of housebound patients. With further vaccination centres due to go live at Chester Racecourse and Alderley Park Conference Centre this week, excellent coverage has been achieved.
"To continue our work to reduce health inequalities during the next phase of the programme, we will prioritise community engagement and outreach to increase confidence in the vaccine, get people vaccinated and encourage those who are hesitant to come forward when they are invited."
Working closely with local authorities and the community sector in Cheshire East, Cheshire West, Halton and Warrington, targeted work is underway to understand any barriers to vaccination across our diverse local communities and to address them head on.
Research already shows that some communities are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, including our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, people who have underlying health conditions and people living in poverty.
Clare Watson added: "We know that, for a variety of reasons, some people are apprehensive or even ambivalent about the COVID-19 vaccine, which is why it is really important for us to listen to and understand their views and do everything we can to reach out and address them – including making it as easy as possible to receive a vaccine.
"It is vital that people of all backgrounds and from all walks of life take up the offer when they are invited for a COVID-19 vaccination. The more people who are vaccinated, the safer we all are and the sooner we can return to a more normal life."
Councillor Rachel Bailey sent AOL this additional vote of thanks to all those involved in the vaccination
"As my husband and I await our turn, it is so rewarding to both read and receive messages from Audlem Residents as thanks are shared not only the receiving of a Covid 19 Vaccination but the whole 'perfectly planned' experience of attending a centre or being attended in one's home.
I therefore wanted to let you know that as part of Wednesday's Cheshire East Budget Meeting I am proposing a Notice of Motion to register the Council's thanks to all involved in the roll out across the Borough be they our Health Professionals, the many Volunteers, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and indeed The Army.
I hope you are all keeping well."
Audlem Ward Councillor