THE Western Health Trust delivered a timely boost for the Easter holidays with the news that its vaccination teams have successfully administered its 100,000th dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
The landmark is the latest local milestone in the vaccination programme, which is the largest of its kind ever undertaken by the NHS.
The programme is being delivered through a range of initiatives, including the operation of three vaccination centres, located at Omagh Leisure Centre, the Lakeland Forum in Enniskillen and the Foyle Arena in Derry.
The centres have been set up in partnership with Derry City and Strabane District Council and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council through a collaborative working agreement.
The Trust has also facilitated vaccination delivery through its district, community and mobile nursing teams who have reached out to vaccinate specific vulnerable groups, including those in care homes, in supported living and members of the homeless community.
The impressive achievement has been delivered through the coordinated efforts of Western Trust staff working closely with multi-agency groups and volunteers from across the Trust area.
The Western Trust hit the 100,000 dose target only a few days after the Department of Health announced the broadening of eligibility criteria to include those over 45-years-old.
People in eligible groups can now get their jab by attending a vaccination centre or a participating community pharmacy.
Those eligible also have the option of waiting for their GP to contact them to arrange their inoculation.
Western Trust director of performance and service improvement and vaccine programme lead, Teresa Molloy, said, “We’re delighted to be making such excellent progress in the roll out of what is the single largest mass vaccination programme ever undertaken by the health service.
“Reaching the 100,000th dose mark during the Easter break is truly an outstanding achievement, particularly in light of the fact the programme only began in December last year. By marking this special milestone we must take stock and reflect on incredible efforts of and say thanks to all our dedicated vaccination teams right across the Trust’s geography, and acknowledge the support of our two local councils for working in partnership with us through the use of their facilities.
“Our staff, volunteers and partners have been working tirelessly to ensure that we have vaccinated the most vulnerable and high-risk people in our communities. To date we have successfully provided vaccines for care home residents, health and social care staff, and those who are clinically vulnerable.
“Added to this we have vaccinated carers over 18 and all those within the JCVI approved age groups. Most of our work is now going to be vaccinating people with their second doses, and that is well underway. We will continue to offer first dose vaccination for a few more weeks, but there are now more and more ways for people not yet vaccinated to have access to their first dose.”
The Trust’s vaccination programme is running in parallel with the vaccine programme run by GPs across Northern Ireland.
Commenting on the importance of the progress so far and on the challenges that still lay ahead, Western Trust Vaccination Centre lead for Omagh and Enniskillen, Martin Quinn, said, “A huge degree of thanks must go out to everyone involved with our vaccination programme and as the roll out continues, it’s important to keep the momentum behind it going and people must look out for their vaccination invitations and continue to attend their scheduled appointments.”
Looking towards the next phase of the vaccination roll-out, Mr Quinn said, “After Easter the number receiving their second dose will continue to grow and people will increasingly start to be contacted when it’s their turn for their second dose and we would encourage them to make sure they take up the opportunity.”
“Everyone who receives a vaccination is helping keep their family, friends and the wider community safe from the worst effects of Covid and helping us all to move towards getting life back to some degree of normality. We urge everyone who has yet to receive their invitation to take up the offer.”
Those who meet the eligibility criteria can book their vaccination by visiting the online booking portal https://covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated/; or by calling the regional booking line on 0300 200 7813 from Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5.30pm.
Anyone invited to attend one of the Mass Vaccination Centres is reminded to wear a face covering (unless exempt for medical reasons), adhere to social distancing rules and bring along their booking reference number, ID and, if possible their Health and Care Number (HCN).