Almost 60,000 over-80s in Norfolk and Waveney have received Covid vaccine
- Credit: Danielle Booden
Almost 60,000 over-80s in Norfolk and Waveney have received a Covid jab, with just a few days left for health bosses to meet their 100pc target.
Fresh data published by NHS England today shows 58,730 people in the oldest priority group have had their first dose of the vaccine.
That is 82pc of the overall number of patients in the region aged 80 and above.
It is hoped the remaining 18pc will get their jabs by the end of the month.
Meanwhile, 79,889 initial doses have thus far been given out to people under the age of 80 - about 8pc of the region's population.
That figure includes frontline health and care workers, and care home residents who fall into the age bracket.
Across England, patients over 70 and those deemed extremely clinically vulnerable are now being offered appointments as well.
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The government's aim is for everyone in those top four priority groups to have received their first dose of the jab by mid-February.
As for Norfolk and Waveney, the area's clinical commissioning group (CCG) - which is overseeing the roll-out - has said it hopes to complete the first round of vaccination for over-80s by January 31.
And, speaking during a press briefing on Thursday afternoon, CCG chief executive Melanie Craig confirmed its target had not changed.
"This is definitely still our target to vaccinate everybody over 80 by Sunday," she said. "It is a really tall ask but we have plans in place.
"Subject to any last-minute problems with vaccine supply - which we are not anticipating or expecting - this does remain a feasible target.
"It's an immense human effort going into this programme and ensuring that we vaccinate our most vulnerable and older populations as quickly as possible.
"We have plans in place and people are geared up to meet the target for Sunday.
"There are things that of course can go wrong at the last minute, vaccine supply being the biggest risk."
Last week, Suffolk and North East Essex found itself at the bottom of the pile in England for its vaccination rate of over-80s, but its vaccination programme appears to have gathered pace.
NHS England's latest data, which goes up to January 24, shows 71pc of those in the oldest priority group had received their first dose.
Across the country, 79.7pc of over-80s have now had their initial jab.
While Norfolk and Waveney was near the wrong end last week, the area's revised vaccination rate has seen it shoot up the table.
In addition, of the 42 care systems across England, the area sits 15th in terms of overall number of doses administered.
As health chiefs strive for continued improvement, Ms Craig said the challenge in our area was heightened by its larger elderly population.
She was, however, confident those masterminding the roll-out would receive the required number of jabs to keep up the pace.
"At 73,633 residents, Norfolk and Waveney has the second-largest number of over-80s in the East of England, double the number in other health systems in the East," added Ms Craig.
"In terms of what more can be done, that is determined by vaccine supply.
"I'm confident and reassured that we will receive the supply we need to vaccinate the remainder of our over-80s in line with the prime minister’s goals.
"That will be a different amount because of the high number of over-80s we have compared to other areas.”
Ms Craig was also keen to allay the fears of patients concerned they have been neglected by the vaccination programme.
She said: “The really important message from me is to reassure everybody in the over-80 and over-70 groups that, if you have not had a letter inviting you to book an appointment, please do not worry.
"You have not been forgotten and you will be contacted by your GP practice or the national NHS booking system.
"It’s really important you attend your appointment at the first opportunity, so we can ensure as many people are protected from Covid-19 as possible.”