Thousands of people have been given their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine at sites across the Morecambe Bay NHS Trust area.
There are now eight Primary Care Networks, three hospital vaccination hubs and three large vaccination sites delivering the COVID-19 vaccine.
The networks, which are groups of GP practices working together in local areas, are delivering the vaccine from nine locations and, along with the three hospital hubs and three large vaccination sites, are now vaccinating cohorts three and four, which include the over-70s and clinically extremely vulnerable patients.
The primary care networks delivering the vaccine within Morecambe Bay are Grange and Lake, Barrow and Millom, Kendal, Carnforth and Milnthorpe, Mid Furness, Bay, Lancaster and Western Dales.
The three hospital hubs are based at Furness General Hospital, Westmorland General Hospital and the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, with the large vaccination sites located at the GSK Sports and Leisure Club in Ulverston, the Westmorland Shopping Centre in Kendal and Lancaster Town Hall.
Teams of healthcare professionals have also been visiting local care homes and housebound patients to ensure the most vulnerable residents get the vaccine.
Dr Lauren Dixon, local GP and executive lead at Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group said: “A great deal of work has gone into the rollout of the vaccine in Morecambe Bay and everyone involved has done a remarkable job in getting it all up and running. It’s been a real team effort.
“When patients have been contacted, many have expressed how thankful they are to be receiving the vaccine this quickly as they see this as the first step towards normality.
“A lot of these patients haven’t been able to leave their homes since March so it really does mean a lot to them.”
Volunteers have also been vital in the rollout as they have been supporting patients on the day of vaccination, ensuring social distancing is kept at all times, marshalling and even driving those patients without transportation to their appointment.
Dr Dixon added: “We’ve had a great deal of support from our local communities and we’ve seen a great deal of people and organisations sign up to be volunteers and they’ve been vital in managing the safe delivery of the vaccine.
“Thank you to each and every individual who has played a part in supporting this vaccination programme.”
Dr Sarah Hauxell, clinical director and senior responsible officer for the vaccination project for the hospital and community sites, added: “At our three hospital hubs, we are focused on vaccinating for our frontline staff, and those working in social care with elderly or clinically vulnerable residents.
“To date, thousands of people from these groups have received their first dose, which is brilliant news.
“It means that we are one step closer to protecting our essential health and care staff. We are relying on them to care for our communities at their time of greatest need.
“Though our staff have had their first vaccination, if you come into our hospitals you will still see staff in masks, gloves and gowns. The virus is still circulating and, until everyone is protected with their second dose, we must continue to fight the spread. Please keep sticking to the guidelines: wash your hands, stay distant from others and wear a mask.”
Dee Houghton, deputy chief operating officer, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust and operational lead for the vaccination project for the hospital and community sites, added: “Our staff are also supporting the mass vaccination sites and we are grateful to them and the many volunteers who have mobilised so quickly to make these vaccination sites happen.”
Community pharmacists are also taking part in the vaccination programme, with Morecambe Cricket Club the first pharmacy site, which opened on Saturday.
Further pharmacy sites will be added in future.
Patients will be offered an invitation to attend a site, which they may do unless they have already received their vaccination from the GP.