2000 care home residents and 10,000 health care staff receive jab as vaccination programme makes great strides in Western Trust
More than 2000 care home residents and an equal number of staff have been vaccinated against coronavirus in the Western Trust area.
On top of that an impressive 10,000 Western Trust care staff have also received their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, less than a month after vaccinations commenced.
Ann McConnell, Director of Human Resources, who is leading the vaccination programme at the Western Trust, revealed this week that great strides have already been made in inoculating the most vulnerable and front line workers against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
"At this point in time we have vaccinated about 2,000 residents and an equal number of care home staff. We are finding that care home staff that maybe didn't want the vaccine the first time round, when we go back to do the second dose are now more open to it as well," said the Trust personnel director.
The local vaccination programme started on December 14 covering care home residents and staff initially. Wider staff vaccinations followed from December 21 with two mass vaccination centres - one at the Foyle Arena and one in the southern sector - being utilised.
"Initially the vaccine was available for staff who were classified in the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) priority groups.
"That included staff who worked on the COVID-19 pathway, were clinically extremely vulnerable, BAME [Black, Asian, and minority ethnic] staff and GPs and their staff who worked in COVID-19 centres. We were also vaccinating some Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) staff in December too," said Ms. McConnell.
Last week the programme opened to all Trust staff and all NIAS staff and the local health service moved to deliver vaccination clinics seven days a week if necessary.
"The Trust is using the Pfizer vaccine in both the care home vaccination programme and the staff vaccination programme so at the moment in terms of the care homes we have 64 care homes and we have been vaccinating those for both first and second vaccine.
The second vaccination programme is under way for over 40 care homes having had their second vaccine," she said.
A very large proportion of health care staff have already received their jabs and this work is continuing.
"The overall staff in the HSC system that have been vaccinated is just over 10,000 and we have administered just short of 15,000 vaccines in totality.
"We have moved to include the independent domiciliary care staff, community pharmacists, dentists, opticians and funeral directors. We included foster carers this week. We are moving to community organisations that provide direct patient care like those who work at supported living like apex, Action Mental Health, Praxis and independent sector allied health professionals (AHPs) - podiatrists, physiotherapists etc. The final group we are looking at this week is the North West Independent Hospital."