'The vaccine and lockdown are working in Leamington' - how medical staff and volunteers have ensured the town is ahead of its vaccination target

Numbers of people needing treatment at Warwick Hospital are falling as the town starts moving onto vaccines for people over 65

Friday, 12th February 2021, 10:40 am

One of the doctors in charge of the vaccination programme in Leamington said the town is ahead of the national targets.

And he believes that the vaccine, along with the lockdown, is already working.

Everyone over 70, as well as vulnerable people, have now been offered the vaccine - and in total, about 16,000 people have had their first injection.

Gillian Sanderson receives her vaccination, alongside Dr Ollie Lawton, clinical director of the North Leamington Primary Care Network, and Matt Western MP.

This means Leamington is ahead of the Government's target so they are now able to move on to the over 65s.

Click here to read our article about how Kenilworth and Warwick are also on target.

"We have had an overwhelming response and are so happy with how things have gone," said Dr Ollie Lawton, clinical director for North Leamington Primary Care Network, the organisation running the vaccine programme in Leamington.

"Everyone who has come in has been grateful to get the vaccine.

Dr Ollie Lawton, clinical director of the North Leamington Primary Care Network, talks to Matt Western MP (left).

"The vaccine is our way out of this and we are already starting to see that.

"The data is showing a drop in numbers of people needing treatment at Warwick Hospital."

Dr Lawton said that there are about 1,000 care home residents in Leamington and since they had their vaccines in January, there have been no outbreaks of Covid-19 in care homes - which he says shows how effective the vaccines are, along with the lockdown restrictions.

The rehabilitation hospital along with Lisle Court Medical Centre in Brunswick Street are being used as Leamington's primary vaccination sites.

They have been using both the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines and started giving them out on December 21, earlier than many other parts of the country. This means that the second injections should start during the second week of March, depending on supplies available.

Medical staff contacted everyone over 70 via a text message - and then phone and letter if they didn't reply.

Leamington has the highest number of people over 80 in south Warwickshire and that brings its own challenges - 500 people had to get home visits as they were housebound.

Dr Lawton said: "It has been a real challenge but fortunately we have a lot of willing nurses who are prepared to work long hours and weekends.

"And we could not do this without our volunteers - from 16-year-olds prepared to give up their holidays to older people manning the desks. I cannot stress enough how grateful we are to all of them."

Yesterday (Thursday) the Primary Care Network started the vaccines for those over 65, way ahead of the Government's target.

With the new arrival of more vaccines, they are hoping hoping to vaccinate about 1,800 people from now until Sunday (February 14).

Then it is a waiting game until the next delivery arrives from the NHS.

Dr Lawton's message is clear: "If you are over 70 and have not had your vaccine, contact your GP now.

"And just to reiterate, although people have had the vaccine, it doesn’t mean you can be any less strict with your social distancing and infection control measures."