Manchester is set to deliver its millionth Covid jab this week after a huge effort by NHS staff and volunteers.
The landmark comes as Covid rates have finally started to decline across Greater Manchester’s 10th boroughs - but the team behind the vaccine say there is no room for complacency and they are still working hard to reach communities where vaccine uptake has remained lower.
The effort has been supported hugely by volunteer vaccinators including the McGrogan family - who between them delivered 6,000 jabs across several months as volunteers at the Plant Hill clinic in north Manchester last year.
Jeanette, 62, is a retired children’s nurse and her husband Liam, 70 is a former GP in Blackley. Their son Andrew, 38, is a locum GP and daughter Fiona, 41, is an advanced nursing practitioner.
On some days during their sessions all four of them would be in the venue, with Andrew as the lead GP. Liam said: “It made me so proud, that as a family we were all pulling in the same direction. It’s a fantastic centre and the atmosphere was so positive – with a real sense of that Dunkirk spirit as we tried to get as many people vaccinated as possible. “For me, I also met a lot of my former patients, which reinforced the value of community and knowing your area and the people who live there. “Jeanette, in particular, was super-fast at vaccinating – which is all down to her background in nursing.”
Jeanette says she became an expert at distracting any nervous patients. “It’s all about picking up cues, and spending time with people,” she says. “When it comes to people with needle phobias, you need to keep them occupied and feeling safe. A lot of people then didn’t even notice the actual jab.”
What do health bosses say?
David Regan, Manchester’s Director of Public Health said: “The vaccination programme has been the biggest public health initiative we’ve ever seen in Manchester, touching on virtually every aspect of the city’s healthcare network. I’m incredibly proud to have played a part in this and I know that thousands of lives have been saved as a result of the skill and resolve of our clinicians, frontline staff and volunteers.
“We are not through this yet and as ever our message remains get your first and second vaccinations, get your booster when offered and take all the steps necessary to keep you and your family safe.”
Coun Bev Craig, leader of Manchester City Council, added: “To reach such a significant milestone is staggering and testament to the incredible dedication of everyone connected to the vaccination effort.
There was a big upsurge in people getting their booster jab in the run-up to Christmas, though health bosses noted this tailed off in the New Year and began urging people to come forward again. Boosters can now also be offered to 16 and 17 year olds.