Wick GP praises team for going 'above and beyond' on Covid-19 vaccination programme
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A Caithness GP has praised his team for going "above and beyond" to ensure as many people as possible are receiving the Covid-19 vaccine.
Dr Ewen Pearson, of the Pearson Practice in Wick, says they are aiming to administer Pfizer jabs to all patients aged between 18 and 40 this month.
The neighbouring Riverview practice has announced that its patients in this age group will be given their vaccination by a mobile unit located at the town's Riverside car park.
Dr Pearson is keen to make it clear that his practice will continue to run vaccination sessions at the medical centre, saying he wants to avoid any "mixed messaging or confusion" among the public.
He also pointed out that the process of vaccinating patients has been helped by the installation of a new door part-funded by wind farm money distributed by Tannach and District Community Council.
"We are looking to get all our 18-40s vaccinated in June if possible," Dr Pearson said.
“One thing we have come across is that we're not sure we have up-to-date contact information for a lot of these patients, because they tend to be well and they don't come in to see us very often.
“If people are keen to have the injection and they're not sure if their contact details are up to date then we'd be more than happy for them to get in touch with us.
“Time is obviously an issue to fit in with all our usual work, and space as well in the medical centre. But we're trying to fit things in as best we can.
“The Tannach funding paid 50 per cent of the cost of putting a door into our treatment room. It allows us to use a one-way system so the waiting area is improved and it's easier to do the distancing.
“We can also use it as a red room. Luckily we've not had to do that, but it would mean that if we did have any cases then we would be able to take them directly from the car park into the treatment room without contaminating the rest of the building.
“Compared to where we were a year ago it's another string to our bow, if you like.
“It's a real community effort, I would say, and we just want as many people to get the vaccine as possible. That's the main thing."
Dr Pearson explained: “Everyone under 40 will be getting the Pfizer vaccine because of the very slight risk of a clot with the AstraZeneca vaccine. But to my mind the risks are very, very small, one in 250,000 – it's like getting hit by lightning or something.
“My risk assessment is that you're much safer getting the vaccine than you are getting ill with Covid.”
He added: “The uptake has been very high, probably higher in the older age groups – which I think is understandable, because they are at higher risk."
The five vaccinators at the Pearson Practice are Fiona Sutherland, Lynne Tait, Louise Campbell, Jacqui Mackay and Carla Mackay.
"Our vaccinators are doing extra shifts on their days off, and the admin staff are working hard organising all the appointments," Dr Pearson said.
“It is all working very well. All the staff are going above and beyond to make sure that the patients are safe.
"The more people that get vaccinated, the better for everyone.
He added: "We are phoning people but if they think contact details are not up to date or have not heard from us then they should get in touch on 01955 605885."
In a social media post last week, the Riverview practice announced that patients aged 18-39 at March 31 who do not come under any other risk group will be given their Covid vaccination by a mobile vaccination unit located at the town's Riverside car park.
The practice said patients would receive a letter from the national booking team with their appointment details.
A spokesperson for NHS Highland said: "Riverview practice in Wick is working in partnership with NHS Highland to deliver the Covid vaccination programme to their eligible population in line with national timelines.
"The practice is concentrating on delivering both first and second vaccines to the over-40 age group and those in the identified higher risk categories.
"We have agreed with the practice that additional support will be provided to vaccinate patients aged 18-39. This is similar to support offered to other practices across NHS Highland.
"The mobile vaccination unit has been used successfully used across many Highland locations and will only be on site in Wick on June 15, 22 and 23, and July 10 and 11. Additional dates will be shared with the public to ensure all patients are offered a vaccine."