THE mission to vaccinate the people of St Helens against Covid-19 is starting to ramp up, with some of the borough’s oldest residents now fully vaccinated.

More than 1,000 people who were included in the first wave of Pfizer jabs in December returned to Saints’ Totally Wicked Stadium last week for their booster vaccination, with more mass clinics planned in the coming days.

The plan is also to finish vaccinating the borough’s care homes by the end of the week, after the first batch of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine arrived.

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And then next week, GPs aim to begin vaccinating housebound patients, having previously been unable to given the fragility of the Pfizer vaccine.

Dr Hilary Flett, who is leading St Helens’ mass vaccination programme, said: “Completing the vaccinations of our predominantly over 90s has been a real achievement – thank you to everyone who came to Saints to receive their vaccine.

“Many of this group have not been out since March and have had limited social contact so hearing their stories of how this will make a difference to their lives going forward has been humbling.

“Now we have received our first supplies of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine we are taking these out to care home staff and residents tomorrow and the aim is to have completed this group of patients and workers by the end of the week.

“We will also complete vaccinations of our frontline primary care staff to ensure that they are protected and next week we will begin vaccinating our housebound patients, continuing as we receive further Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccines which are easily transported.

“As more supplies are becoming available we are ramping up our offer and 1,000 more appointments are being made for later this week for our over 80s at Saints.

“I’d remind everyone to be patient – once the above groups have been completed we will then be moving to our 75-79 age group and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable and are on the shielding list.”

There had been fears that patients would have to rebook their appointment after the government changed its strategy to give a booster after three weeks, delaying it instead for up to 12 weeks.

The move was backed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advising the government, which said the focus should be on giving at-risk people an initial dose of whichever vaccine is available.

In St Helens, a decision was taken to go ahead with the booster jabs as planned.

However, those who receive a Covid jab in the future will have a lengthier wait to receive their booster.

Residents eligible for a Covid vaccine will be receiving letters from NHS England nationally inviting them to book on to one of the larger mass vaccination clinics that have been set up.

St Helens Star: Former Saints player Bill Adair was the first person to get the Pfizer jab in St Helens in December Former Saints player Bill Adair was the first person to get the Pfizer jab in St Helens in December

St Helens CCG has asked older patients who have received a letter from the NHS to not worry if they find that any sites on offer are too far to travel to.

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These sites have been are running alongside local GP-led vaccinations with the aim of offering as many options to people as possible to get vaccinated.

If people do not want to attend one of these sites, they will still be able to have their vaccine from the local GP-led service.

Anyone eligible for a vaccine will be contacted directly by their GP practice in the coming weeks.