NHS leaders have confirmed that they have reached almost everyone in the first four priority groups – meaning that more than a quarter of South Tyneside adults have now had their first dose.

“Reaching a quarter of our adults in seven weeks is an incredible achievement – we should be so proud of everyone’s efforts,” said Matt Brown, Executive Director of Operations at NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) (pictured).

“From doctors and nurses to security and volunteer marshals, everyone has pulled together and worked so hard.

“This has shown South Tyneside at its very best, in so many ways. The pharmacists giving up their weekends to reach people who are housebound, as well as helping in the vaccine centres. The doctors, nurses and practice managers working almost every day over Christmas. The outreach teams holding special vaccine clinics so that people with learning disabilities can get the vaccine in a place that’s familiar to them. The drive to reach all frontline staff at South Tyneside Hospital.

“More than 250 local people volunteered to work as marshals, helping the process run smoothly, guiding patients through and putting them at ease.

“The teams work so hard to ensure that nothing is wasted. Once a vial is opened, it has a short life, so they always keep a list of people who can be called in at short notice if necessary. At times I’ve seen the team phone round at the end of the day and within minutes, they’ve got four people from a priority group to attend.

“The teams are doing an incredible job, and the best way for us all to thank them is to keep following the guidance by social distancing, wearing face masks and washing hands regularly – even after having the jab.”

With nearly everyone in the first four priority groups reached, the focus is now on the next two groups – people over 65, and those aged 16-65 who are in at-risk groups – before returning to the first four cohorts for second doses. People in the next two groups are asked not to contact the NHS to ask when their appointment will be, as a large volume of calls slows the vaccine progress down.

If you are over 70 and haven’t yet been invited, or you have previously received a letter saying you are at high risk of Covid-19 (clinically extremely vulnerable), you can call 119 or register online to book your jab.

Front line health and social care workers should have been offered vaccination appointments via their employer – if you are employed, please check with your manager.

Front line health and social care workers who are self-employed (such as personal assistants, chiropodists or physios can register for a vaccination.

Further information, and answers to frequently asked questions about the vaccine, are available at www.southtynesideccg.nhs.uk.

Great-grandmother Joan Myers, 81, was among the first residents in South Tyneside to receive the Covid-19 vaccine