Public health bosses say NHS Tayside is in a “good position” moving forward with coronavirus vaccinations.
Dr Emma Fletcher, director of public health at NHS Tayside, gave an update on the health board’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and said the vaccination team were well placed to adapt to changes in the future.
She also thanked members of the public for sticking to the lockdown restrictions and helping to drive down infection rates, and said they were working to try and encourage as many people as possible to take up the offer of a vaccination.
Speaking at a recent board meeting, Dr Fletcher said: “We are approaching one year since the first case was diagnosed here in Tayside.
“It has been such an exceptionally challenging year for everyone with our communities living with restrictions but our services have flexed to respond to the challenges of Covid-19.
“All of us know someone impacted by the virus.
“It has been a tough year but one where there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“The next challenge for public health is rolling out the vaccine, continued outbreak management, and awareness of the longer-term impact this will have on our communities and health inequalities.”
Vaccination teams can adapt to changes in the future
Currently both the Caird Hall in Dundee and Dewars Centre in Perth are operating as mass coronavirus vaccination centres.
Along with vaccinations being carried out in GP surgeries, around 6,000 people a day are receiving their jab.
Speaking at Thursday’s meeting Donald Macpherson, whistleblowing champion at NHS Tayside, asked whether or not there was a plan should these centres go back to their day-to-day operations.
He asked: “The mass vaccination campaign is hugely impressive with the sheer logistical effort involved in getting that in place.
“That is an amazing job.
“How might we evolve if the Caird Hall starts to do concerts again and Dewars starts skating again?”
In response, Dr Fletcher said: “I am also looking forward to the concerts and ice skating as well.
“We have a very comprehensive model for the large clinical sites at the Caird Hall and Dewars Centre and the 62 GPs in the community.
“There is a considerable degree of flexibility depending on the needs of the population, so we can adapt.
“But colleagues supporting us will have to go back to the jobs they would ordinarily be doing too, including the vaccinators and all the support staff in the background booking people in.
“It is difficult because we don’t know what it is going to look like, but we are in a strong position to flex an adapt our model in the future.”
Top docs plea to the public to take up the coronavirus
At the meeting members of the NHS Tayside board also issued another plea to encourage people to take up the coronavirus vaccine when they are offered it.
They also said they would work to try and reach every community in Tayside with this message.
Trudy McLeay, chairwoman of the Dundee Integration Joint Board, said: “I am very grateful to have been vaccinated and I urge the population to come and take up the offer of a vaccination.
“I also want to commend the vaccinators for doing a great effort for our population.
“Learning to become a vaccinator is incredibly intense but they are focusing on patient care and I am incredibly proud of them.”
Dr Fletcher added: “This is the most ambitious vaccination programme ever delivered and I am grateful to advise 40% of our adult population in Tayside has been vaccinated.
“The roll out of the vaccination is providing the widest possible care and protection for the people at greatest risk, including people over the age of 80 and care home residents.
“Uptake of the vaccination has been exceptional and really well administered.
“Both the Pfizer and Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines are safe and we have delivered 135,000 doses in Tayside – that speaks for itself.
“I am grateful to everyone for taking up the vaccine when it is offered.
“We are continuing to roll out information in different languages and look at how we engage with Traveller populations to make sure we are alerted to any concerns and we will engage with those communities in the future.”
Members of the public praised for helping to drive down infection rates
Public health bosses have also thanked members of the public across Tayside for sticking to the coronavirus restrictions, and say this has contributed to the falling infection rates.
Councillor Ken Lynn, who sits on the NHS Tayside Board, said: “I think an excellent example of the public health message is the longer the pandemic has progressed, the greater the compliance has been.
“The only public place I am in is the supermarket, and in the early and middle stages of lockdown I was frustrated at the number of people without a mask on.
“But now I am seeing 100% compliance and we are seeing the figures go down.”
Dr Fletcher added: “Throughout the pandemic we have been indebted to the support of the people of Tayside for following the advice and my thanks go to everyone for helping to drive down infection rates.
“My cautious advice would be to remember the guidance, wear face coverings, keep to social distancing and stay at home, whether you are vaccinated or not.
“I don’t want all our hard won gains to be lost over the next few weeks.
“We are in a very strong position and lets not lose that, lets keep following the guidance, and for the time being, stick with it.”
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