Covid vaccination centre hits 250,000 jab milestone for Sleaford and Grantham

The GP network for Sleaford and Grantham has delivered the milestone figure of a quarter of a million covid jabs to local patients within the space of a year.

Darren Altus, of K2 Primary Care Group who has coordinated the vaccination programme for Grantham and Sleaford presents a bouquet to the 250,000th patient to get her jab, Andrea Odam of Sleaford. EMN-211217-155945001
Darren Altus, of K2 Primary Care Group who has coordinated the vaccination programme for Grantham and Sleaford presents a bouquet to the 250,000th patient to get her jab, Andrea Odam of Sleaford. EMN-211217-155945001

The Grantham and Sleaford Primary Care Network today (Friday) celebrated their milestone at the vaccination centre based in the Mere’s Leisure Centre, Grantham as the service ramps up to meet the surge in demand for booster jabs in the face of the spread of the Omnicron variant.

People across Lincolnshire are being urged to ‘get boosted’ before Christmas, to maximise protection in response to the exceptionally quick spread of the Omicron covid variant and significant drop in protection from the first two doses of the covid vaccine.

Andrea Odam, of Sleaford was presented with a bouquet as the 250,000 patient to get a jab. This was her booster dose, which she booked online.

Marking the occasion, from left - Dr Adriaan Van Biljon, Rebecca Neno, Darren Altus and 250,000th covid jab patient Andrea Odam, of Sleaford. EMN-211217-155923001

She commented: “It is good for general health and keeping yourself safe this Christmas.”

Grantham GP Dr Adriaan Van Biljon, clinical director for the Grantham and Sleaford Primary Care Network, said he was “so proud” of the progress of the vaccination campaign, which has accelerated in response to the government announcements calling for everyone to get boosted by the end of December.

He said: “We are ramping up delivery, staying later at night and opening earlier in the morning in the hope we can get enough ahead not to have to work on Christmas Day.” He himself has not seen family back in South Africa for more than two years as a result.

“We are now doing 1,400-1,800 jabs a day. We have put out an appeal asking local GP practices to release staff to step up this delivery, meaning they will have to sacrifice other routine stuff and the reaction we have had from practices has been amazing and from volunteer staff.”

Andrea Odam of Sleaford getting her booster jab. EMN-211217-155934001

Dr Van Biljon admitted that his team’s hearts did sink for a moment when they heard that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was bringing the deadline to deliver boosters forward by a month, but he paid credit to the staff and nurses who have stepped up to the task. “This is our community, our friends and patients,” he said. “We have been using every possible drop of vaccine and more supplies are coming.”

He said they were concerned that some people were putting off getting their booster until after Christmas, fearing possible side effects. He said some people may feel aches, pains and headaches, but this was merely demonstrating your immune system was waking up and responding well to deliver more protection.

For those who have not yet come forward to have a vaccination yet, for whatever personal reason, he urged them to do so now - for themselves, their loved ones and everyone else at risk.

His advice for people making plans for Christmas was to keep it minimal, as is being recommended in Scotland.

The Sleaford Standard's Andy Hubbert - and his wife, Jo, both turned up for their booster jabs on the day of the 250,000th vaccination milestone at Grantham Meres Leisure Centre. EMN-211217-160040001

“The great majority of our patients are sensible and know the severity of this disease. I agree with limiting contact to three households and doing our bit with families and friend circles to fight this and slow the spread - social distancing and mask wearing is key.”

Rebecca Neno, Director of Covid and Influenza Vaccination Programmes at NHS Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group, was full of praise for the Grantham and Sleaford team, which she said had been “absolutely instrumental” in the vaccination programme.

“Their contribution has been staggering. We are ahead of the curve in Lincolnshire,” she said, adding a message to patients: “Please don’t delay your booster. Get it as soon as possible to give yourself the best protection against Omnicron variant. We are hearing some would rather wait until after Christmas, but you are putting yourself at more risk.

“We are making more and more appointments available as more staff are released to help.”

Even if you are booked in for after Christmas, she said you can cancel and re-book into an earlier, pre-Christmas slot as more become available, freeing your old slot up for someone else later.

“We know that having a booster vaccination significantly increases protection against the Omicron variant, preventing around 75 per cent of people getting covid symptoms,” explained Rebecca.

“If you leave getting your booster vaccination until after Christmas, there would appear to be every likelihood that rates of covid infection, which, driven by the Omicron variant, have already broken the daily record (78,610 on December 15), will be significantly higher and so the chances of catching covid will obviously be greater.”

Whilst sizeable numbers of people are booking their appointment for their covid booster online via the National Booking System or by calling 119, with over 323,752 booster vaccinations given to-date in Lincolnshire (as of December 14), they are reminded that GP practices are also still offering considerable numbers of vaccination appointments locally.

How to get your vaccination in Lincolnshire:

At a local GP vaccination centre - you will be called by your GP in the forthcoming days to arrange this – please ensure you attend when called forwards.

Or by visiting the National Booking System or calling 119, to book your appointment at one of the vaccination sites across the county, including the Mass Vaccination Centres at PRSA, Boston and the Lincolnshire Showground, or at a community pharmacy.

Book as soon as you are called forward.

Booster vaccinations are available for anyone 18 and over.

A new pop-up vaccination site has been opened up in Great Hale village hall from next week for bookings only.

For more information on where you can get your vaccination visit: https://lincolnshireccg.nhs.uk/grab-a-jab/