Doctor reveals when Sheffield GP surgeries could start giving out Covid-19 vaccine
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The first people received their Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 jabs at the Northern General Hospital in Sheffield and other hospitals across the UK on Tuesday, December 8.
Vaccinations are set to get underway at some GP practices nationally from next week, with people aged over 80, care home residents and staff, and the most at-risk healthcare workers being prioritised.
Dr Ollie Hart is a GP at Sloan Medical Centre in Meersbrook and clinical director of the Heeley-plus Primary Care Network, which coordinates care across eight practices looking after some 50,000 people in the area and is one of 15 such groups within Sheffield.
He says preparations to begin vaccinations at surgeries around the city are well underway, with GPs in constant dialogue to ensure this can be done as safely and efficiently as possible.
The nature of the Pfizer vaccine, which must be stored at -70C, has made this task harder and he said each of the 15 networks had chosen one practice where people within that area will initially be invited to get their jabs, though vaccinations could be available at more surgeries in future.
In the Heeley area, that will be The Matthews Practice, which he said had been chosen for lots of reasons, including its central location and good access by public transport and car.
It is too early to say for sure when the first patients will be vaccinated at surgeries in Sheffield, but Dr Hart hopes this will happen next week.
"There’s a massive commitment from health teams across the city to make this happen as quickly as we can,” he said.
"I’m really optimistic that next week some GP practices within Sheffield will be giving vaccinations, and I’m pretty sure that most of those which have been chosen will be doing so before Christmas.
"We give the flu vaccine every year so we’re used to doing vaccinations on a big scale and we’re very excited that with the vaccines now coming through we’re able to step up to the plate and do something really positive to combat this terrible virus.”
Dr Hart accepts that a combination of conspiracy theories and ‘misinformation’ means it could be a hard task to persuade some people to get vaccinated.
“There will be some people who are naturally suspicious because people listen to rumours and they’re asking ‘has it been rushed through?’,” he said.
"But I think the speed at which this vaccine has been made available represents what science is able to do when people club together for the common good.
"What we’re all really clear on is that this is a very safe vaccine, and we don’t see any reason why the overwhelming majority of people shouldn’t be perfectly fine to have this,” he said.
He also urged people not to ‘bombard’ practices with calls asking when they will be vaccinated, assuring them that they would be invited according to priority.
"We know everyone’s desperate for this and we’re doing everything we can to make sure it’s done as safely and quickly as possible,” he added.