Later this week, the very first local sites will start vaccinating some of the county’s most vulnerable residents. People who have been identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) as the highest priority will be invited first, including over-80s and health and care staff.
This first wave of community GP-led sites follows the launch of the NHS vaccination programme in hospital hubs, such as Yeovil District Hospital, and is part of a range of ways that people will access vaccination services across Somerset.
Andy Heron, joint senior responsible officer for the mass vaccination programme in Somerset, explains:
“As a rural county, we are planning to make the vaccine available from a number of locations to enable easier access for as many people as possible. Over the coming weeks, this will include our new local GP-led vaccination services, hospital hubs, larger county sites and via teams of mobile vaccinators for those who cannot leave their homes.
“This is the first phase of this roll out of the vaccine in communities and I want to thank all our primary care colleagues, who have worked tirelessly to make this possible.”
Vaccinations will initially be delivered from four different sites in Somerset including Taunton Vale Healthcare, Taunton; The Mulberry Centre, Berrow; West Mendip Community Hospital, Glastonbury; and The Gateway Centre in Yeovil. These initial GP-led sites have been developed by primary care networks (groups of local GP practices) who have been working closely together to develop detailed plans to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations in community locations.
Dr Tim Norbury, local GP Partner and Tone Valley primary care network COVID vaccination lead said
“We’re delighted to be leading the way as one of the first initial GP- led sites in Somerset to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to our most vulnerable patients in the Taunton area.
“This has been an amazing example of team work from across our network and all GP practices across the county, where teams have worked extremely hard together, in partnership with local NHS colleagues to set up the first COVID-19 vaccinations.
“We have now started to invite the first priority patients aged over 80 years from across our five GP surgeries to come in for their first vaccinations on Thursday. We would like to reassure everyone that they do not need to contact their GP surgery directly – we will contact patients to arrange their vaccine appointment when the time is right.
“We’d also like to thank all our patients for their understanding as services are adapted at the Taunton Vale Healthcare site while vaccinations are taking place.”
Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health at Somerset County Council, said: “It is fantastic to see the first local vaccination sites opening in Somerset and this is another key milestone in our fight against coronavirus.
“Please let’s celebrate this news but don’t drop your guard – the threat of coronavirus remains and for now the best way to keep everyone safe is by staying vigilant and continuing to follow the ‘hands, face, space’ guidelines.”
Dr Alex Murray Clinical Director for Fit for my Future / STP, Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group added
“The new GP-led vaccination centres are a really important development in our response to this disease, and the start of our local roll out of the vaccination programme.
“We are hugely grateful to our GP practice teams who have been working around the clock to put detailed plans in place to deliver vaccines safely to the priority groups identified by the JCVI.
“Please be assured that there is no need for you to contact your local NHS services to be vaccinated, they will contact you when it is your turn and you will be given all the information that you need for your appointment.”
Local vaccination services will be led by GPs, practice nurses and community pharmacists, with other services and additional community locations to follow over the coming weeks.