Booster jab plea in Sunderland - Wearsiders urged to get better protection
Healthcare leaders have urged eligible residents to take up the offer of a booster vaccine to "guarantee better protection" against Covid-19.
According to data revealed to local NHS bosses this week, Sunderland' s vaccination programme has given out more than 440,000 jabs to residents and staff.
This included more than 200,000 first doses - which equates to 85% of the total eligible population being vaccinated with one dose.
Around 189,500 second doses have also been given with around 93% of those who have had the first dose going on to have a second.
More recently, the programme started to offer booster doses with more than 48,000 given so far - about 25% of the eligible population.
While booster vaccine uptake rates are high in the vulnerable older age groups, including care home residents, NHS bosses said further work is needed to ensure other priority groups come forward for boosters this winter.
The figures have prompted an appeal from Dr Ian Pattison, executive GP and clinical chair of NHS Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
Speaking at the CCG’s Primary Care Commissioning Committee on Thursday (November 4), Dr Pattison urged eligible residents to take up the offer of a booster jab.
He told the meeting: “I just think being a clinician on the ground that people do not realise that six months after having two doses, the effectiveness of the vaccine wanes significantly.
“I think a lot of people out there think that if you have had two vaccines you’re protected [...] but it drops off significantly at six months.
“It’s a concern for me as we go into winter that we might be having people potentially dropping to as low as 60%, 50% and I've even seen 40% coverage - only half the people who have had two doses getting protected because they have gone longer than the six months.
“I think we need to get that message out that if you have had the two doses and you have gone past six months and you’re in the vulnerable cohort, the only way you can be guaranteed better protection is by getting the boost of the vaccine.
“I think that message hasn’t really got out to people, I think they think they have got two vaccines and they’re covered and they can not wear their mask in public, which is another big problem I’m seeing, and things will be alright.
“But the surgeries and the hospital have never been busier.
"The economy and everybody would like to restart but Covid hasn’t gone away, people are still getting it, they’re still dying from it, flu is coming and winter is coming.
“So if you’re eligible for a vaccine I just think people need to get it [...] people think because they have had two they’re covered and you are for a bit.
"But after six months, you’re probably not as well covered as you hope.”
Dr Pattison added: “There has been unused vaccine slots and we have got vaccines sitting in the fridge in Sunderland.
“We need people who are eligible to come forward.”
Following discussion, the Primary Care Commissioning (PCC) Committee agreed to look at increasing resources for communications supporting the booster vaccine campaign.
This included developing more localised campaigns to improve uptake.