Volunteers needed in Peterborough for 'historic' booster jab roll-out

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Volunteers needed in Peterborough for 'historic' booster jab roll-out (Photo: Rob Hallam)

On Tuesday evening (December 14), new restrictions were approved in Parliament for face coverings at more indoor spaces in England and the introduction of NHS Covid passes for nightclubs and large venues. 

Therefore, the government is ramping up the vaccination programmes to maximise protection and keep infection rates at bay. 

People are eligible for a booster three months after their second vaccine but they can book after two months - the NHS wants to meet its objective of offering every eligible adult a chance to book a booster before the New Year. 

But the British Medical Association trade union noted that the booster rollout will affect routine services, and challenged the Prime Minister to fulfil his promise of Government support for the NHS. 

In Peterborough, the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has said thousands of vaccinations are taking place in the city every week, with more appointments being loaded onto the system all the time. 

They have not reported any supply issues so far but there is an increased demand for volunteers to support the ‘biggest vaccination programme in the history of the NHS.’ 

Rob Hallam, volunteer co-ordinator at one of the Covid-19 jab clinics in Peterborough said: “There’s a concerted effort to try and extend how many people we can get vaccinated. For these you need the volunteers, vaccinators, administrators. It’s not going to just happen.  

“Halls was shut earlier this week – it's indicative of the efforts it’s putting in. 

“We gave between 800-900 jabs on Saturday but we had six vaccinators, six administrators, 20 volunteers and two pharmacists. That’s what it takes to run a unit like that. There’s a lot of organising and capabilities to add in extra hours. But people are doing their best to expand their capacity.  

“Currently, Halls is open Thursday to Saturday. We are trying to see what more we can do.  

“I just want to remind people to book in their jab. It’s not going to be easy to do walk-in because it creates an unpredictable demand. So, use the NHS site to book your booster. Please be patient with the queues as this is a massive scale of operation.” 

Despite the best efforts of authorities, “Peterborough has a long way to go” as it is still behind the national average of vaccinations. 

As on December 13, 143,866 first doses of the Covid-19 vaccines and 129,829 second doses were given out in Peterborough. This means, 62.3% of Peterborough population has been double jabbed, while the UK average is 82% 

59,330 boosters have also been given across the city as of Monday, December 13. 

Dr Gary Howsam, Chair of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “A year into the COVID-19 vaccination programme and we have already delivered over 1.6 million doses of vaccines across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

"Our teams of vaccinators, support staff and volunteers have been outstanding, and I want to thank each and every one of them for their ongoing dedication and support. 

“It is now time for us to push again, to significantly increase local vaccination opportunities to get as many eligible people boosted as possible before the end of the year. Our teams are working incredibly hard to increase the number of vaccination appointments that local people can book, and I would encourage people who are eligible for their booster to visit the National Booking Service website to book their jab.” 

Meanwhile, the CCG is working alongside local authorities to promote vaccine uptake across communities in Peterborough.  

A spokesperson said: “We continue to work closely with our partners, including colleagues at the local authorities, to encourage vaccination uptake across communities in Peterborough. A few examples of this work include: 

  • Door-knocking and leafleting work, led by our colleagues at the Local Authorities 
  • Sharing resources such as Frequently Asked Questions flyers in a range of community languages, and organising tailored Q&A sessions that are free to join virtually 
  • Regular conversations with community and faith leaders to understand and address hesitancy in the community.” 

It has further said, though there are currently no plans for a 24/7 vaccination clinic in Peterborough, they will not rule out any measures as they "work to meet the new national target for the delivery of boosters."

Nationally, a record 656,711 booster and third doses of Covid-19 vaccine were reported in the UK on Tuesday, new figures show. 

The previous record was 550,253 doses on Saturday. 

A total of 24.7 million booster and third doses have now been delivered in the UK, with 3.4 million in the past seven days. 

You can find out about volunteering for the vaccination programme here.

Both our MPs - Peterborough MP Paul Bristow and North-West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara - supported the government's 'Plan B' in parliament yesterday.

In a social media post Mr Bristow said that it was "the most difficult voting decision he had faced since becoming an MP."

But he added: "It is important to realise that what the Government is proposing is actually quite limited. The new restrictions won’t stop anyone from socialising, or going to a restaurant or the pub. Extending mask-wearing to more shops and venues is an inconvenience, but I think most people support it.

"Unlike the misery of last year, we will be able to meet friends and family as normal over Christmas.

"The controversial issue has been whether people should show proof of vaccination before entering a football ground, a large venue or a nightclub. Ministers have listened to my concerns and to public concern.

"What is being proposed will not be “vaccine passports”.

"A negative test result will now be accepted as an alternative to vaccination. This is an important concession.

"I know some constituents want to see vaccine-only passes and elements of compulsory vaccination, but we have never taken that approach in this country. I find the idea of fining or imprisoning unvaccinated people abhorrent. As much as I hope that everyone gets jabbed and boosted, a free society doesn’t compel them.

"The NHS does face a new threat from the Omicron variant, however. Even if it proves milder than other forms of Coronavirus, Omicron appears to be far more contagious and less contained by vaccination, so we could still see significantly higher hospital admissions. When combined with the vaccine booster programme, the ‘Plan B’ measures should help to protect us.

"Equally, we know that the scenario modelling has been wrong in the past. As I have stressed in other public forums, restrictions must be revoked whenever subsequent data shows they are no longer necessary.

"It remains the case that vaccination is the answer to the virus. It’s just that until we have boosted the nation, Omicron means it can’t be the only thing we do to keep ourselves safe."