Concerns over supply as health chiefs aim to vaccinate 25,000 a week in Oldham

By Charlotte Green, Local Democracy Reporter

HEALTH chiefs are aiming to vaccinate 25,000 people against Covid-19 every week in Oldham but warn there could be ‘challenges’ in getting that many doses supplied to the borough.

Mike Barker, chief operating officer of the clinical commissioning group (CCG), revealed that so far more than 4,000 residents have received the jab.

The first eligible people in the top priority group received the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Oldham on December 15 at Greenbank Medical Practice.

Mr Barker told a meeting of the primary care commissioning committee that they estimate they need to vaccinate 150,000 people to give protection to all the vulnerable and age-priority groups, as well as health and social care workers.

“Our aspiration is to complete all of the four priority target groups by the middle of February and the remainder by the end of April, which is the current government target,” he said.

“However, I have to stress to this committee that is largely dependent on whether we can be supplied with the right quantity of vaccine.

“It will not be, I believe, dependent on our ability to mobilise a workforce from a site to be able to push the right number of patients through them.”

Currently the primary care network sites where the vaccine is being delivered from are administering between 6,000-7,000 vaccines a week based on the ‘current level of supply’, he explained.

But with the new Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine being approved and distributed to GP sites across the country, this should increase.

The vaccine is currently being delivered from Greenbank Medical Practice, CH Medical in Chadderton, Royton Health Centre and the Keppel Building in Failsworth.

Bosses are now preparing to mobilise new sites at Moorside Medical Practice and the Oldham Integrated Care Centre in the town centre.

Mr Barker added: “The work we’re now focusing on is how do we get ourselves to 20 plus thousand vaccines per week.

“Because there will come a point in time where we have to administer the first and second doses in the same week and that’s the kind of scale we’re going to need to be running at to accommodate those.

“I think we are going to face significant challenges ahead.

“I am absolutely confident we can get to 25,000 vaccines per week in delivery terms, I’m not as confident that we will get 25,000 doses to be given out though.

“We’ll have to keep seeing how that goes and keep pressing.”

However, he added he believed the picture will look ‘very different’ in a month’s time.

The CCG is now working on plans to vaccinate between 50,000-60,000 people in the borough by February.

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