The ‘incredible’ efforts of health and care staff, volunteers and local communities have been praised as the number of Covid-19 vaccines given in Devon crosses the one million milestone.
Devon’s first Covid-19 vaccination was given to 81-year-old Kathleen Viney on the 8 of December 2020. Since then:
- 1,018,810 doses have been given in Devon between 8 December 2020 and 2 May 2021
- More than 20 vaccination centres have operated across Devon
- 694,770 people in Devon received a first vaccine dose up to 2 May
- 324,040 second doses have also been given
- Around seven out of ten adults (aged 16+) in Devon have had at least one dose
Darryn Allcorn, Chief Nursing Officer for NHS Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, who leads the vaccination programme, praised the efforts of everyone involved.
“This has been a truly incredible team effort to help people to keep themselves and their loved ones safe and to allow our lives to begin to return to normal,” he said.
“I’d like to thank all our partners across Devon – including GPs and their teams, colleagues in our NHS trusts, local authorities, pharmacies, community groups and volunteers – they have done an outstanding job. We know many people have worked long hours and given up part of their Christmas and Easter breaks to make this happen.
“The vaccination programme is still in full swing and plenty of first dose appointments are available for people aged 38 and above.”
To reach the million-dose milestone the local vaccination programme has been working with diverse communities across Devon to increase take-up and address any concerns. Work has included:
- Enlisting the support of vaccine ambassadors to provide reassurance and support to local ethnic minority communities
- A pop-up vaccination clinic at Exeter Mosque and Cultural centre
- Translating vaccine information into other languages so people have access
to reliable information
- Using a mobile vaccination unit to reach workplaces with high numbers of migrant workers and rural communities
- Developing a film in partnership with service users to help people with learning difficulties access the vaccination
- Working with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities to understand perceptions of the vaccine
Vaccine ambassador Sanita Simadree, Chair of the Devon wide BAME Network, said: “I was initially nervous about having the vaccination, as I am not keen on needles, but I know the vaccine is safe and vital to protect people from Covid-19. I am happy to be able to support others to allay any anxieties they have.”
Uwem Udo and his wife Dorcas took part in an online session organised by his church, Overcomers Christian Fellowship in Plymouth, and NHS Devon CCG to put their concerns to experts and hear from people who have had Covid-19.
The event helped to reassure them about the vaccine. Uwem said: “The way the panel members addressed the questions and concerns that were raised was really good. Hearing a real-life experience was a very good thing.”
The success of the vaccination programme could not have been achieved without the hard work of many volunteers; some of whom have braved wind, rain and even now to support people as they arrive for their vaccination.
Karen Kenworthy and her son Cameron had seen very little of one another since restrictions were introduced, but a shift together as vaccine volunteers at Plymouth’s Large Vaccination Centre at Home Park gave them four hours in one another’s company.
Cameron said: “It was great to spend quality time together and have a laugh. It’s been great to spend the majority of my time during lockdowns helping other people.”
Karen has also enjoyed meeting other volunteers. She said: “I like getting to know people as people, not about the job they do, we are doing something for the customers, but it’s doing a lot for the volunteers.”
The vaccination programme continues and has now entered phase two; meaning people aged 18-49 will gradually be offered the jab. Currently everyone aged 38 and over as well as other eligible groups are able to book their vaccine.
If you are eligible for a vaccination, you can use the National Booking Service website or call 119 to make an appointment. People in many areas of Devon will also be contacted by their GP practice about an appointment.