A MIDDLESBROUGH vaccine bus is being rolled out to encourage more people to get on board with having their COVID-19 jab.
Run by health staff from Central Middlesbrough and Greater Middlesbrough and Holgate Primary Care Networks, the mobile clinic will aim to boost vaccination rates in areas where uptake has proved low and provide improved access for people who may find it difficult to get to a designated vaccination centre.
The bus, which has a capacity to provide around 250 vaccinations a day, will stop at:
• Middlesbrough Central Library, Centre Square, 1st and 3rd June 10am-6pm
• Abu Bakr Mosque, Cannon Park Way, Friday 4th June 10am -6pm
• Acklam Green Centre, Stainsby Road, 7th and 8th June 10am -6pm
Those eligible to receive a jab include anyone over the age of 40, who have not yet received their first vaccination, or who have had an AstraZeneca vaccine at least eight weeks ago and not yet received their second dose.
No appointment is needed and an on-board team of immunisers and support staff, from NHS Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Middlesbrough Council’s Public Health Team, will be on hand to answer questions or address any issues of vaccine hesitancy.
Dr Janet Walker, Medical Director, NHS County Durham CCG, said: “The COVID-19 vaccination programme has been going really well across Tees Valley.
“We’ve already delivered over 630,000 vaccinations and we hope that by taking the vaccination bus even closer to where people live, we’ll be able to reach many more people who may have found it difficult to get to a clinic so far.
“It is really important that we aim to be as flexible and responsive within all our communities and ensure we try to remove as many barriers as possible that prevent people from having their jab.”
Alternative vaccination hubs across Tees Valley include 13 local GP led vaccination sites, five community pharmacies and the Darlington Arena and Riverside Stadium large vaccination centres.
The Riverside Stadium vaccination hub will be temporarily closed during half term, due to international football matches taking place, and will reopen on Wednesday 9th June. Additional vaccination capacity will be available at Darlington Arena during this time.
South Tees Joint Director of Public Health Mark Adams said: “The vaccination programme has been a great NHS success story and everyone who has been involved deserves a huge amount of credit.
“In Middlesbrough we know there are parts of town where the uptake has been lower and our focus is now on trying to ensure everyone across our communities is protected.
“After the success of pop-up clinics I’m pleased we’re now able to use the bus as another opportunity for people to be vaccinated.
“Protection against Covid – including current variants – rises significantly after both doses, so it is vital people come forward for both jabs. It’s pleasing that we’re able to offer second doses to those over 40 who had their first AstraZeneca jab at least eight weeks ago.”
The MELISSA bus (Mobile Educational Learning, Improving Simulation and Safety Activities), which will be used as a mobile clinic to administer the vaccinations, has been provided by Health Education England, North East.
MELISSA team manager, Stephen Cooper, added: ” The MELISSA bus is a fully refurbished double decker which is used to deliver education and training to staff and the public in our more rural or hard to reach communities.
“We are delighted to be able to join Tees Valley CCG and Middlesbrough Council’s Public Health Team in their current COVID-19 public awareness and vaccination campaign.”