'A race against time' - 18,000 people in Redbridge have received Covid jab

Shoukatali Dahya, 80, receives an injection of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine at the Al

A total of 18,000 people have received the first dose of the Covid-19 jab in Redbridge with a goal of immunising all care home staff and residents by the end of January. - Credit: PA

Redbridge's health leaders urged all residents to have the Covid-19 vaccine with a total of 18,000 people having received the jab already.

In a public meeting on Wednesday (January 20), the council's public health director, the CCG chair and BHRUT's chief medical officer answered residents' questions about the vaccine and talked about the co-ordinated effort to immunise as many people as fast as they can.

While the infection rate in Redbridge has been cut in half from a peak of 1,600 per 100,000 people at the beginning of this month the death rate is still high with nine people dying every single day from Covid-19 last week.

Director of public health Gladys Xavier stressed that the infection rate is still high and that people between the ages of 20 and 35 are being hospitalised at a higher rate now.

Dr Anil Mehta, Redbridge CCG chairman, said GPs are in a "race against time" to administer the vaccine to as many people as possible and he has been doing injections for those who are housebound and can't get to the three vaccine centres in the borough.

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He said: "We must remain hopeful that that this is a very seismic moment for us and we need to concentrate on the work at hand and not be deflected by other things going on."

He stressed their goals that every care home resident and staff member would receive the jab by the end of January and all frontline workers and extremely vulnerable people would be vaccinated by the middle of February.

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Dr Mehta said that every person would be called by reception staff to book them in for their vaccine appointment and they would also send a text message reminder.

GPs also have a reserved list of patients they can call on short notice to come in to receive the vaccine and in some cases those people might be under 80.

He said: "The number one rule is we cannot waste vaccines, this is gold dust.

"I'd rather be told off that I've done a 79-year-old than bin it."

Dr Magda Smith added: "The vaccine does not mean we can take our guard down, we need to get enough people vaccinated to get this under control. Until then, hands, face, space remain critical."

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