HEALTH MATTERS: Commemorating one year of COVID vaccinations

By Lucy Ashton

It’s been one year since the first COVID-19 vaccinations in Scotland. During that time, over 2.1 million doses of vaccine have been delivered across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde by a huge team who have been working tirelessly, supporting members of the public to roll up their sleeves in our collective fight against the virus.

From major music venues to local community centres, in care homes, churches, town halls and sports centres, people have come forward as part of one the biggest NHS mobilisations in the organisation’s history.

Dr Linda de Caestecker, Director of Public Health at NHSGGC, said: “The COVID-19 vaccination programme has been one of the largest and fastest deployments ever undertaken and our staff, along with our local authority partners, have responded amazingly well over the course of the past 12 months. When we started on this vaccination journey, we never expected it to run for a year and beyond, but this simply shows the ongoing importance of the programme in the fight against COVID-19.

“On the anniversary of the first vaccination, I would encourage anyone who is yet to receive their vaccination, or is due a second, third or booster dose to please book an appointment.

“We have had a wonderful response with people booking appointments, particularly in recent weeks, so we ask members of the public to please be patient as they may have to wait for a few days between booking and attending their appointment.”

Gail Caldwell, Director of Pharmacy at NHSGGC marked the anniversary by thanking all pharmacy teams involved in the delivery of the vaccine.  She said: “Our team has played a huge role in the logistics of the vaccination programme, from handling and transporting vaccines at ultra-low temperatures to venues across Greater Glasgow and Clyde to making sure that every vaccinator was fully equipped to administer vaccinations. I am so proud of the teams and all they have achieved over the past year.”

Nurse vaccinator Paula McMahon, who was the first person to be vaccinated in Greater Glasgow And Clyde said: “To see so many people come forward to be vaccinated is amazing. I am so proud to have been able to play my part. It’s really important that we can all do our bit to stop our friends and loved ones from becoming seriously ill with COVID, so please come and pay us a visit, if you haven’t already. We are here to help and support you and we promise to make it as painless as possible.”

Meanwhile, a new Scottish Liberal Democrat analysis has shown that 265,000 scheduled operations have now been lost to the pandemic and the party has called for an urgent new Burnout Prevention Strategy for NHS staff as the backlog continues to grow.

In October only 16,704 operations were scheduled in the theatre system – more than 10,000 below pre-covid levels of NHS activity.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP commented:  “These new statistics show the scale of covid’s impact. In the region of 265,000 operations have now been lost to the pandemic. The loss of these procedures means people are in pain and can’t get on with life.

“The backlog is still growing because operations remain way below pre-covid levels.

“NHS staff have worked around the clock to protect people from the virus and navigate the fallout of the SNP’s botched workforce planning that has left so many departments dreadfully short of staff. They deserve better.

“It is why I’m calling on SNP ministers to urgently bring forward a Burnout Prevention Strategy for staff this winter. If staff aren’t retained then every plan to recruit, stabilise the health service and stem the backlog of operations will fall flat.”

ENDS

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