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"Dedicated volunteers and traffic marshals peeped out from their hats and scarves as they moved around to keep warm"

- Prof Mike Holmes looks back on what was happening six months ago as York approaches six months since its first Covid Vaccination. 

As the sun beat down on the vaccination centre this week and we approach the six month mark since we did our very first vaccination in York, I reflected on what was happening in December.

Clinicians wore thermals under their scrubs and clutched hot drinks between shifts as we pumped hot air into the tent. Dedicated volunteers and traffic marshals peeped out from their hats and scarves as they moved around to keep warm. Come rain, snow, sleet and hail, we kept those gates open and supported our patients as they made their way to the Askham Bar to get their jabs.

I remember being asked by the media on one particularly snowy day, ‘Are you closing tomorrow – there’s going to be lots of snow overnight?’ The weather was never going to beat us…”as long as people are careful travelling, we’ll be here to vaccinate you!” We sent out an appeal to local taxi drivers to help some of staff get to work.

Once again, the community pulled together to make it happen.

This week, although the weather has been very different to back then, the community spirit remains. We’ve been working hard at Askham Bar to create a fantastic memorial garden and seating area. It’s been hot work but the teams have been hard at work and it’s looking great.

Anyone who has been inside the tent for their vaccine will have seen the fantastic art exhibition by local artist Sue Clayton. We will soon be receiving another collection of prints, courtesy of local artist Karen Winslip, who is bringing her ‘NHS Heroes’ portraits to the tent next month.

Across our region we have now fully vaccinated (first and second doses) more than 57% of the adult population. We have given nearly 2m vaccinations and more than 75% of people in cohorts 1-12 have had their first vaccine.

There is still more to be done – the uptake amongst carers has increased over the last two weeks but is still low in some areas of York. Adult carers can book in for their vaccine via nhs.uk.

We are reaching out to employers to carry out workplace vaccinations with onsite pop up clinics later this month and York is planning an outreach clinic at the York Women’s Centre for sex workers and vulnerable women. Work is also happening to encourage male sex workers to have their vaccine. Our pop-up vaccination at the University of York this week has been very successful with hundreds of people already booked in for their jab. If you’ve had a text, don’t ignore it – click on the link and book your slot. And give you friend or family member that nudge to get theirs – we need to win the race against any new variants of the virus and make sure we’re all safe.

No stone is being left unturned – it’s a collaborative effort with everyone working together to capture the last few people who need their jab. We particularly need people who are hesitant and communities where there is low uptake, to come forward to be vaccinated. We are working with the NHS and the Council to explore ways to make it easier for people right across the city.

As we start to see cases rise and new variants emerge, the importance of being vaccinated couldn’t be greater – if you are eligible and you want to be vaccinated we will be there for you.

 

 

 

 

 

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