A COUNTY Durham vaccine bus is being rolled out to encourage more people to get on board with having their COVID-19 jab.
Run by health staff from Easington District Primary Care Network, the mobile clinic will aim to boost vaccination rates in areas where uptake has proved low and provide improved access for people who may find it difficult to get to a designated vaccination centre.
The bus, which has a capacity to provide around 200 vaccinations a day, will make its first stop at the Castle Dene Shopping Centre, Broad Close Car Park, (behind Argos), Peterlee, on 7 May between 10am and 3pm.
Those eligible to receive a jab include people over the age of 40, who have not yet had their first vaccination, anyone clinically extremely vulnerable or with an underlying health condition which increases their risk, people with a learning disability, unpaid carers, or frontline health or social care workers.
No appointment is needed and an on-board team of immunisers and support staff, from NHS County Durham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and County Durham Care Partnership, will be on hand to answer questions or address any issues of vaccine hesitancy.
Kate Huddart, Head of Medicines Optimisation, NHS County Durham CCG, said: “The COVID-19 vaccination programme has been going really well in County Durham.
“We’ve already provided more than 395,000 vaccinations across the county and we hope that by taking the vaccination bus even closer to where people live, we’ll be able to reach many more people who may have found it difficult to get to a clinic so far.
“It is really important that we aim to be as flexible and responsive within all our communities and ensure we try to remove as many barriers as possible that prevent people from having their jab.”
Alternative vaccination centres across County Durham include 13 local GP led vaccination sites, three community pharmacies and the Arnison Centre, large vaccination hub, Durham.
Michael Laing, Director of Integrated Community Services, County Durham Care Partnership said: “This is partnership working in action.
“Health partners working together to help offer people easier access to a Covid vaccination.
“This builds on the fantastic work of our GPs, community pharmacies, public health team and our hospital trust in recent weeks to vaccinate hundreds of thousands of people across County Durham.”
Amanda Healy, Durham County Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “The vaccination programme has been very successful, and we are pleased to see that so many of our residents have now received at least their first dose.
“For those who are struggling or unable to access a designated centre, this programme will make it more accessible for people to receive their jab. Encouraging residents to receive their Covid-19 jab will help protect as many people as possible from the virus.”
The MELISSA bus (Mobile Educational Learning, Improving Simulation and Safety Activities), which will be used as a mobile clinic to administer the vaccinations, has been provided by Health Education England, North East.
MELISSA team manager, Stephen Cooper, added: ” The MELISSA bus is a fully refurbished double decker which is used to deliver education and training to staff and the public in our more rural or hard to reach communities.
“We are delighted to be able to join County Durham CCG and Country Durham Care Partnership in their current COVID-19 public awareness and vaccination campaign.”