More than one million people in Lancashire and South Cumbria have now had at least 1 dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as part of the largest vaccination programme in NHS history – and over 50 million people have been vaccinated across the UK.
In the first three months of 2021, volunteers gave more than 50,300 hours of their time as marshals at over 30 different community vaccination clinics and seven mass vaccination centres across Lancashire and South Cumbria.
A North West ‘Vaccine Heroes’ campaign launches today to celebrate the incredible contribution from our local communities. The stories of people involved in the vaccination programme from every part of the North West will feature on social media over the coming days with the hashtag #NWVaccineHeroes.
Jane Scattergood, COVID-19 Vaccination Director for Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System said: “I’m so proud of the NHS and its partners specifically GP practices and hospital trusts who are doing an incredible job at delivering the vaccine at pace to protect our residents.
“Over 1 million doses of the lifesaving vaccine have been delivered in the area so far, and we simply couldn’t have vaccinated so many people without all of our fantastic volunteers. We are so incredibly grateful for their support and contribution to the programme. I’d like to recognise Lancashire Volunteer Partnership who recruited and trained over 1,400 volunteers, the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service who are providing a team of lead marshals to support some of the large vaccination sites in the area and the GSK volunteer marshals.
“To the wider public, I’d like to say a big thank you for their incredible response to the vaccination programme and for playing their part by booking their appointments as soon as they are invited. As soon as you are eligible, please do book your jab – it’s simple, effective and provides vital protection against coronavirus.”
Many of the volunteers are retired, like Richard Townsend who has already clocked up 160 hours at the Lancaster Town Hall site: “As volunteers, we’re in a privileged position to be able to support people. It can be a powerful, emotional and moving experience, and there can be lots of anxiety and worry. I can’t give medical advice, but I can reassure and support people while they wait.
“I’m retired, so I am able to work three or four shifts a week. But anyone can contribute to helping the vaccination programme – there is a role for everyone out there, and it’s easier than people think.”
Naomi Rutherford recently moved to Kendal and wanted to be part of the COVID-19 response. She said: “I haven’t met many people since moving here, so I thought volunteering would be a good way to get to help out during the pandemic and get to know my local community at the same time. I’ve found it really rewarding and have recommended others to sign up too.”
Last week, a number of new vaccination sites opened in Blackburn and the surrounding area to boost the delivery of the vaccination to eligible people. Bookings for these sites can be made via the Lancashire and South Cumbria Vaccination Programme website.
People who are eligible can book their vaccination slot at one of the other sites in Lancashire and South Cumbria online via the national booking service. Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.
Kidney transplant patient Rashida Karbhari, from Blackburn, Lancashire, has described her ‘sense of relief’ when she received her second dose of the vaccine at Blackburn Cathedral Crypt vaccination centre. She said: “I’d advise patients like me who are vulnerable and have a long-term illness – don’t be scared, it’s just like a normal prick in the arm. The NHS staff are working so hard to get all these vaccines out so everybody’s safe and we can all get back to a normal life.”
Visit the Lancashire Volunteer Partnership website for more information on volunteering and how to sign up.