‘Light at the end of a very dark tunnel’ – Gateshead vaccinators mark major milestone

Posted on Thu, 15/04/2021

NHS staff across Gateshead are celebrating the achievement of providing the COVID vaccine to the borough’s vital health and social care workforce.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s COVID vaccination hub opened just before Christmas 2020 – and has since worked at a rapid pace to give health and social care staff their vaccinations, alongside five GP-led centres across the borough. They have given two vaccine doses to nearly 10,000 health and social care workers across Gateshead. This includes more than 4,500 of the Trust’s own staff.

The programme has involved staff from across the hospital’s teams, alongside practice staff, volunteers and local partners including Gateshead Council and Community Based Care, and the Gateshead GPs’ federation.

Andy Beeby, medical director at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: "The vaccination programme shows just what the Gateshead NHS family is capable of when we pull together – it is an amazing achievement that was organised and executed quickly and efficiently. And because of their hard work, there are now nearly 10,000 of the borough’s key health and social care workers who have had both doses of the COVID vaccine, a crucial part of our road to recovery over the coming months."

The vaccine effort has reached frontline health and social care staff, as well as pharmacists, dentists, podiatrists and opticians.

David Carter, Chair of Gateshead and South Tyneside local pharmaceutical committee, which represents all pharmacy businesses in Gateshead and South Tyneside said "I’d like to thank all the staff at the QE vaccination hub for all their help and support in vaccinating the front line health professionals working in Gateshead community pharmacies. Vaccination is the single best way we can all beat this virus, and vaccinating pharmacy staff has helped to keep our vital services operating."

"It felt like the light at the end of a really dark tunnel"

Erin McGuinness, a nurse at the Trust, volunteered to be a covid vaccinator when the programme started.

She explains: "I was totally honoured to be asked to be a Covid vaccinator here at the QE and even more so to be part of the first nursing team on the very first day! That morning standing there in the room while everything was being set up felt so emotional. It helped me reflect on this past year...tragically losing my grandma to Covid and then going on to being a support nurse in critical care and witnessing things I never thought I would have.. this really felt like the light at the end of a very dark tunnel.  

"I’m so proud of what we’ve all achieved as a trust, smashing our goals and supporting each other along the way with a smile. It’s been a fantastic opportunity for me as a nurse and it’s a time I will remember for the rest of my life." 

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