Care home residents across the borough will begin to be vaccinated this week, as well as any staff not already vaccinated in the first wave, as rollout of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme continues across North Tyneside.

TyneHealth NHS GP Federation in partnership with Community Nursing Teams, North Tyneside GP Practices and the North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), will deliver the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to care home residents and staff this week after England’s national regulators approved the complex cold-chain process, splitting of vaccine packs and safe delivery within care homes.

The first six care homes to receive the vaccine have been selected according to nationally set priorities and risk profiling. The rollout is being coordinated across NHS health providers and the social care sector, in partnership with care home staff, North Tyneside Council and the CCG.

A dedicated team of TyneHealth Nurses and GPs from our Care Home Service, alongside District Nursing teams and local GPs will be working together to deliver the vaccine to care home residents and staff in tandem with the continued COVID-19 Vaccination Programme rollout across North Tyneside.

All three COVID-19 local vaccination services are now operational across the borough in Longbenton, North Shields and Wallsend as well as the hospital hub based at North Tyneside General Hospital.

Dr Susannah Thompson, Medical Director of TyneHealth said:

It has been our highest priority to find a way for the COVID-19 vaccine to be administered safely to our most vulnerable care home residents and staff.

As the regulator in England gave the green light and vaccine supply has arrived in the North East, we have been able to call on our dedicated community teams of nurses and GPs to aid the rollout of vaccines in care homes across North Tyneside.”

The logistics of delivering the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine presented unique challenges for community teams, especially within care homes. This is due to the need for extremely low temperature storage and the short period of time (3.5 days) the vaccine is usable once defrosted and diluted, as well as the instability of the vaccine if moved too frequently. 

Previous MHRA advice that packs should not be split, has been updated, as seven trial sites across England successfully delivered the vaccine within care homes last week. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is now being released to GP-led local vaccination services across England and packs split for roving vaccination teams to take into care home settings.

Elected Mayor of North Tyneside, Norma Redfearn, CBE, said:

“The continued roll out of the vaccine here in North Tyneside is fantastic and the council is working together with our partners to ensure it goes smoothly.

It’s particularly good news for care home residents, their families and the staff that the vaccine is starting to reach them. They have had such a tough time this year so it is good for them to have some good news and to see the vaccine reaching the most vulnerable in North Tyneside.”

The news yesterday (Wednesday 30th December) that the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and the new JCVI advice that the 1st dose should be given to as many at-risk groups as possible, with a larger 12 week interval before the 2nd dose, is particularly welcome for the most vulnerable groups within our care homes.

This will mean that the vaccine rollout across North Tyneside can be accelerated for at-risk groups into 2021 due to the normal storage conditions and easier delivery of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine within community settings. As we receive more information about this process from NHS England we will update further.

Betty and Ross Hall, both 98 years old, were among the first care home residents to receive to COVID-19 vaccine in North Tyneside

Residents are reminded that COVID-19 Vaccination is by GP invitation and appointment only, moving down through the priority groups outlined by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). Please do not contact your GP about the vaccine or turn up at any of the vaccine sites without an appointment; the NHS will call you when it is your turn to be vaccinated. 

More information is available on our COVID-19 Information Hub with our continually updated FAQs that have been developed with our community partners at HealthWatch, North Tyneside Council, VODA and the CCG.

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