Calls for teachers to be immunised as more than 14,000 people in Tameside get first Covid-19 jab

by Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter

MORE than 14,000 people in Tameside have received the Covid-19 jab as the borough pushes ‘ahead of the curve’ and bosses now want to see teachers immunised to ‘stop the damage’ to young people.

By the end of Friday, January 15, 16,000 residents of Tameside and Glossop will have received the first dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Covid-19 vaccinations at Active Hyde Leisure Centre (Picture: Darren Robinson)

And a further 2,000 have already received their second dose which should guarantee up to 95 per cent immunity from the virus.

However, health chiefs say they are ‘frustrated’ that they cannot currently vaccinate teaching staff as part of the programme timetable for priority groups.

Council leader Brenda Warrington told a meeting of the full council that the vaccination progress so far had been an ‘amazing achievement’.

“I’m happy to say that if we continue to receive an adequate and a timely constant supply of the vaccine from government sources, then we are on course to have all of our most in need residents by mid-February,” she said.

“This means all over 75s and health and social care workers, those over 70 who are clinically vulnerable will have received this vital, potentially lifesaving jab in the next handful of weeks.”

Over Christmas and New Year staff worked ‘tirelessly’ to vaccinate care homes residents, as well as the over 80s, and key health and social care workers including special schools staff, she told councillors.

Mary Murray at the vaccination centre in Hyde (Picture: Darren Robinson)

“I’m proud that this has put Tameside ahead of the curve nationally in terms of rolling out the vaccine to our residents,” Cllr Warrington added.

“For every 20 vaccinations in care homes we have the potential to save a life and that’s a powerful reminder of just how critical this programme is.”

She told the meeting that after receiving the vaccine, people see the ‘lifting of a dark veil of fear and isolation’.

However Cllr Warrington added they need assurance over the supply chain of vaccines, and have called on government to give priority to local vaccination centres.

A meeting of the clinical commissioning group’s primary care committee heard that so far 19,000 vaccines have been received in the borough since December 15.

And clinics have been filling up within 24 hours as ‘public are streaming through the doors’.

Jessica Williams, director of commissioning, said: “We could be vaccinating between 23,000 and 28,000 a week. But we have got 5,000 for next week.”

She told the committee they are well on their way to meeting the target of vaccinating all people in priority groups 1-4 by February 14.

“I think we could do that by the 23, 24th of January which would then mean that we could either offer our services to other areas that might be struggling within Greater Manchester or we could carry on,” Ms Williams added.

“My frustration is that we’re unable to put teachers and school staff through as an automatic within those groups 1-4.

“I have asked at a Greater Manchester level prior to Christmas whether or not we could get on and do all of those people because I think it would provide confidence and reassurance for parents and teachers, and potentially get our schoolchildren back and stop the damage this is doing to our young people and their families.”

She told the panel she hoped the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and NHS England would ‘change their mind on that and allow us to bring teaching staff through at the earliest opportunity’.

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