It’s one year to the day since the first Covid-19 vaccination was administered by a Primary Care Network (PCN) in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
In that time, NHS staff and volunteers have united across the country to deliver over 100 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, with more than 1.7 million coming from our local vaccination programme in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG).
There have been more than 5000 staff and volunteers involved in 53-GP run clinics, providing our local community with first, second and booster jabs.
Eighty-one per cent of the BNSSG population, aged 12 and over, have now received their first dose, with a 108-year-old taking the crown for the oldest person to be vaccinated.
In an interview with BBC Radio Bristol, Kingwood Health Centre’s Dr. Neil Kerfoot reflected on the past year saying: “In December we started to design how we would get vaccinations at pace into our population. There were lots of regular meetings and the staff were amazing – everyone came forward and offered to join us. We had volunteers coming out the woodwork, asking to help, and it was a real team effort.
“In my Primary Care Network, we’ve done 60,000 vaccines now and it takes one-minute to input the vaccination on to the computer once it’s been administered. That’s 41 days of admin time our team has done in the last year so that we can keep track of who has had their vaccine.
“To have over 80% of the population in Bristol vaccinated is amazing. There’s been some great work from staff in general practice, local pharmacists, community and outreach teams, along with the mass sites.”
Kingswood Health Centre’s Practice Manager Robyn Clark added: “We often refer to it as our war effort. This is the closest to that war time spirit we’ve ever felt. We’ve all been working long hours in this combined effort to bring about an end to what has impacted so many lives for so long.”
Care home residents were one of the first cohorts eligible to access Covid vaccinations and praising the work of the programme is 105-year-old Deerhurst care home resident Edna: “It is absolutely marvellous. All the carers around me are good – I don’t know how they work so hard. I’ve had my two jabs and booster and I was a lucky one. I felt so pleased. I’ve not had vaccinations before – it was different, but it was all soon done.”
Claudia, who works at Deerhurst, followed up by saying: “The success of the vaccination programme has meant a lot more freedom. The residents were more protected, and we were able to look after residents in the same way, while wearing PPE.
“We had the doctors come in and everyone was vaccinated. Because everyone was vaccinated at the same time, we could open up a little quicker and families could start to visit again.”
With increasing numbers of confirmed Omicron cases across the country, vaccination is critical to bolster our defences against this new variant.
Subsequently, our local NHS is working on plans to quickly scale up our Covid-19 vaccination programme, including through GP surgeries.
Your GP surgery will be in touch very soon to offer you an appointment. Please do not contact your surgery about making a vaccination appointment before you hear from them.
From today (Wednesday 15 December) everyone aged 18 and over can book a booster vaccine appointment online here.
NHS England and the government have asked general practice to focus on vaccinations in the coming weeks. This may mean you will be waiting longer for non-urgent appointments and as always, practices will be working hard to prioritise those who are most in need. Please be kind and treat staff and volunteers with respect.
Remember, vaccines are the best way to protect yourself, friends, and family from these dangerous viruses, so everyone aged 12 and over are urged to take up the vaccine.