IT’S the biggest mass vaccination programme in the country’s history and so far, so good. That’s the view of Cllr Charles Margetts, as the borough gets to grips with the jab that can tackle covid.
Last weekend, the Bradbury Centre in Wokingham town centre was repurposed into a hub for Wokingham and Woosehill residents to receive their coronavirus vaccine as the roll-out continues.
Amid a backdrop of sharply rising numbers of people testing positive for the virus, this is one success story that the executive member for health, wellbeing and adult services is pleased to be able to share.
“The vaccinations organised by the CCG is all going well,” he told Wokingham.Today. “We have vaccinated about 60% of over 80s, as well as lots of care home staff.
“The take-up rate is around 96% of people, and around two-thirds of the vaccines used are the Pfizer type.
“GPs are doing a great job, and it’s going really well.”
He said that by the end of March, the majority of over 50s will have been offered the vaccine. This process will be helped by new vaccination centres being able
“People are working flat out to achieve this,” Cllr Margetts said. “This is also a plan to open a big vaccination centre at the Madejski Stadium in February.
“All credit to the West Berks CCG for this.”
Cllr Margetts also said that everyone will receive their second dose within 12 weeks, often sooner.
“The average is eight weeks,” he said, adding that some people were getting it sooner.
The smoothness and speed of the vaccination deliveries has been helped by volunteers working with Wokingham Volunteer Centre.
“They have been swamped with people coming forward,” Cllr Margetts said. “Thanks to everyone who has come forward, they have really made a difference.
“If you’d like to help, contact the Volunteer Centre.”
The council would also be helping by providing additional staff to help with the distribution, something that has been appreciated as, like all sectors of the community, team numbers have been depleted as people contract the virus or need to go into self-isolation.
“They’re doing a great job under the circumstances,” Cllr Margetts said.
“If you had told me in the first week of December that in the second week in January, we’d be in this position, I would have bitten your hand off.”
Last week, Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned the nation that covid restrictions may still be needed next winter and Cllr Margetts is prepared for this, saying that the jabs could become an annual event similar to the flu doses already distributed.
“There may need to be some form of ongoing vaccination every year, there may be a ‘covid-2’ next autumn,” he explained. “It can’t be done in GP surgeries as it’s on top of their usual work, so we’re identifying buildings which could be used instead, such as Swallowfield Village Hall. Wargrave, for example, would need to find a new venue.”
For those who are keen to get their vaccination, Cllr Margetts urged people to wait until their GP contacted them. “You will be seen as soon as possible,” he said.
“And it’s absolutely vital that you follow all restrictions in each and every way. Only go into the park for exercise, keep socially distancing. If you’re collecting a takeaway in a cafe, follow the rules and restrictions, as they are there for a reason.
“It won’t be much longer if we all stick to the rules.”
Cllr Margetts added that lateral flow testing was rolling out smoothly in schools, and hoped to expand it to nursery staff as soon as the council is able to do so.
“The government has said it will roll out lateral testing to all essential workers, we want to see what that looks like,” he added. “As soon as there is firm information, I will announce that.”