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Highland health chief praises 'extraordinary' efforts on Covid vaccination programme


By Alan Hendry

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Peter Swanson, civil infrastructure manager at Dounreay, delivering the vaccines using the site’s snowplough.
Peter Swanson, civil infrastructure manager at Dounreay, delivering the vaccines using the site’s snowplough.

The chief executive of NHS Highland has praised the "extraordinary" work being done on administering Covid-19 vaccines across the health board area, with 87,698 having received their first jab by February 15.

This adds up to 33 per cent of the over-18 population in the Highlands, Argyll and Bute.

First-dose vaccination in care homes was completed ahead of schedule, and it is planned to have all care homes offered their second vaccination by the end of March.

More than 95 per cent of over-80s and over-75s have received their first vaccine, while nearly 85 per cent of over-70s have been given theirs. Over-65s have now started to be invited to receive their first jab and it is hoped this group will be completed by the end of February.

Chief executive Pam Dudek said: “The work being carried out by GP colleagues to vaccinate the general population is extraordinary, with additional clinics being held in the evenings and at weekends to ensure the programme continues to meet targets.

NHS Highland chief executive Pam Dudek highlighted the work being carried out by GP practices to vaccinate the general population. Picture: Gary Anthony
NHS Highland chief executive Pam Dudek highlighted the work being carried out by GP practices to vaccinate the general population. Picture: Gary Anthony

"We have our local teams vaccinating colleagues across health and social care with help from the Scottish Ambulance Service and its mobile unit. There are also a number of teams working behind the scenes who are doing everything they can to support the roll-out of the programme.

“Thanks must also go to our partners across the NHS Highland area, including Highland Council and Argyll and Bute Council, who have provided support in various ways to keep the programme on track.

"We have had support with offers of buildings to assist our GPs, volunteers to help with marshalling and even a snowplough from the team at Dounreay to ensure the vaccine could reach its destination.”

NHS Highland chairman Professor Boyd Robertson said: “This is a massive undertaking and the challenge really cannot be overstated.

"It is thanks to the unstinting efforts of everyone involved throughout NHS Highland that we have been able to deliver the amount of vaccine we have across our vast territory, stretching from Wick and Thurso in the north to Campbeltown and Helensburgh in the south, and from Tiree in the west to Nairn in the east.”

Pete Rodgers (85) receiving his first jab from advanced nurse practitioner Shona Gunn at a Covid-19 vaccine clinic run by Thurso and Halkirk Medical Practice last month.
Pete Rodgers (85) receiving his first jab from advanced nurse practitioner Shona Gunn at a Covid-19 vaccine clinic run by Thurso and Halkirk Medical Practice last month.

He added: "It has been humbling to hear of all the ways that teams across the NHS Highland area are pulling together to ensure the vaccination programme is a success. I would like to offer my sincere thanks to everyone involved.

“I would also like to thank members of the public who have been coming forward in their thousands to take up the offer of the vaccination. This has been a very challenging time for us all but it is vital that we remain focused on rolling out the vaccination programme and, hopefully, restoring a semblance of normal life beyond the pandemic.”

The pharmacy at Caithness General Hospital asked if Dounreay could help collect a Covid-19 vaccine shipment that was stranded in Golspie due to the wintry conditions.

Michael Sinclair and Peter Swanson answered the call and took the site's snowplough to the Lawson Memorial Hospital to pick up approximately 700 jabs stored in three chilled boxes, and delivered them to the pharmacy in Wick.

Dounreay is continuing to help in distributing vaccines across the far north.


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