A MASS campaign of COVID vaccination in Dumfries and Galloway is on course to see older adult care home residents and staff receive their second jab by January 16.
Delivery of the first of two jabs is set to have been provided in all older adult care homes in the region by Christmas Eve, this Thursday December 24.
Immunity begins to develop following the first dose, but is fully established seven days after the second. The current schedule would mean that the fullest degree of protection would be in place for these groups by January 23 at the very latest.
Chief Officer of Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership Julie White said: “Care homes are particularly vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, so the protection this vaccine offers will be a huge comfort and relief to residents and their families, and also to the staff working so hard to help them and keep them safe.
“COVID vaccinations only began in the region on December 8, so delivering the first of two doses to care home residents and staff ahead of Christmas against some of the storage and transport limitations posed by the initial Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is testament to the efforts of the incredibly hard-working vaccination team.
“However, we still have a very long way to go in order to establish widespread immunity across Dumfries and Galloway. Until that time, it’s essential that everyone continues to follow the rules around the appropriate wearing of face coverings, hand hygiene, physical distancing and social interaction, and especially around immediately self-isolating and arranging to be tested if experiencing any symptoms of COVID.”
To date, 1200 vaccinations have been delivered to staff in Dumfries and Galloway working in clinical, patient-facing areas where they may encounter patients with COVID.
COVID vaccinations began in Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary on December 8, and, last Friday, vaccination of patient facing staff also got underway at Galloway Community Hospital in Stranraer.
It is expected that this programme will accelerate significantly upon the approval of the Astra Zeneca/Oxford vaccine, which unlike the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine does not need to be stored at temperatures of -70 degrees Celsius.
Currently, it is anticipated that the Astra Zeneca/Oxford vaccine will become available between Christmas and the New Year.
Vaccination of people aged over 80 is scheduled to start on January 18 2021, subject to regulatory approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) for use of the Astra Zeneca/Oxford vaccine and informed consent being given.
As previously stated, people are asked not to make approaches to their GP or NHS to enquire about provision of a COVID vaccination. All those identified as eligible to receive their COVID vaccination in the first cohort set out by the Scottish Government will be contacted directly.
GP practices will be scheduling appointments for people aged over 80 in early January, so there is no need to contact the practices or the NHS.