'Nobody will miss out': Officials urge patience as Covid vaccine rolls out across North Yorkshire next week
Officials at the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum told a briefing today that the start of the immunisation programme was a historic moment in the fight against the virus, but struck a cautious tone as they warned of the "enormous" challenges that lie ahead.
They also raised concerns that the dramatic drop in Covid cases during lockdown now appears to be plateauing and cautioned against hopes the county could be moved to Tier 1 before Christmas.
The first batch of the double-dose vaccine was administered in England on Tuesday and planning has been taking place as to how the programme will work locally.
NHS bosses have announced the first vaccines will be given out in North Yorkshire from next week, with more details on where the jabs will be available to be confirmed in the coming days.
Amanda Bloor, accountable officer at North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said seven vaccination venues have been identified as she hailed the "fantastic" turning point in the pandemic.
"The news of the vaccination programme starting is fantastic - we have been waiting for it all year," she said.
“This programme will take place over a number of months, not a number of weeks. This is just the beginning of a methodical programme."
Priority will be given to those over the age of 80, care home workers and front-line NHS staff.
Those chosen for the vaccine will be contacted by the NHS and people are being urged not to waste time by chasing an appointment at their local hospital or GP.
Mrs Bloor said the public would have to be patient, with “the vast majority of vaccinations to take place in 2021, not before Christmas."
She said: “I understand there will be anxiety in a number of people who are really anxious to get the vaccine as soon as possible but we are putting in place plans to do that as quickly and as safely as we can.
“Patients will be contacted with a personal invitation to attend for a vaccine and that should happen over the next few days for some patients in North Yorkshire in line with the national prioritisation criteria.
“Please do not contact your local practice or local hospital to ask for an appointment for a vaccination and please do not turn up at your GP or hospital.
“The NHS will proactively contact individuals as part of the vaccine programme and nobody will miss out."
A review of North Yorkshire's Tier 2 status will be held on December 16 when government officials will look at infection rates, pressure on the NHS and other measures to gauge the prevalence of Covid.
Dr Lincoln Sergeant, the county's director of public health, said with a rebound of cases expected as families come together over Christmas, it may be safer to relax restrictions after the festive period.
He added: “It is important for us to keep the momentum going. I think we can aim for getting to Tier 1, it is certainly within possibility if we keep momentum going and if we keep working together.
“But we should not be disappointed if that does not happen before Christmas.”
North Yorkshire has a weekly infection rate of 103 people per 100,000 - a figure which has remained consistently below the England average of 151.
The Harrogate district’s average stands at 93.
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter