Pharmacies in Sudbury and Long Melford begin final Covid vaccination push as director receives Suffolk Hero award in recognition of contribution to rollout
A pharmacy director, who received special recognition for his contributions to the coronavirus vaccination programme, says the final push to get people inoculated has begun, urging anyone with remaining anxieties to get in touch.
The Pharmacy in Long Melford and North Street Pharmacy in Sudbury are encouraging people who have not had both jabs of the vaccine to do so as soon as possible, as the national roll-out enters the home stretch.
The latest NHS England data shows that almost 86 per cent of Babergh’s adult population have had their first dose, as of July 11, while over 69 per cent of those aged 16 and above in the district have received both jabs.
To recognise the work of both pharmacies to help facilitate the roll-out, director Jawn Jiang was presented with a Suffolk Hero Award, as nominated by members of the public and chosen by the county’s MPs.
Mr Jiang, who oversees five pharmacies and four vaccine hubs in the region, as director of the G M Graham Pharmacies group, told the Free Press: “It’s an absolute honour.
“Although the award is addressed in my name, it really should be to everyone at the pharmacy group, because it’s an award for all of them. It has been a real team effort.
“We haven’t had much experience with anything like this in the past, except for flu jabs. There were a lot of small issues in terms of logistics in the beginning, which we worked through together.
“In the beginning, we did find it very difficult to manage the site, but now, it’s very smooth sailing.
“We find that people really like being able to get vaccinated at their local community pharmacy, which really shows the value of the whole sector.
“In terms of reception, people have been very grateful and some of the early people almost found it emotional, because they were the most vulnerable group and they could have that reassurance. That has felt very rewarding for the staff.”
Mr Jiang, who is also the director at Parade Pharmacy in Siam Place, Sudbury, is now involved in the region’s ‘vaccine bus’ scheme, which sees mobile vaccination clinics travel to public settings, so passers-by can drop in and get their jab.
The initiative is particularly aimed at the 18-to-29-year-old demographic, which has the fewest number of people to have received both doses of the vaccine.
"We’re now really on the last push to get everyone vaccinated," Mr Jiang added. "Because of the recent rise in cases, the uptake has not really slowed down.
“A lot of young people are still getting their first dose. I think younger people are taking it more seriously now. In terms of travel rules, I think that’s the main motivation for them getting vaccinated.
“I think the bus model has also really helped. We’ve found it works very well, because, if you can just go and get the jab, it reduces the anxiety around it.
“People now find it very common, whereas before, there was a lot of uncertainty. If anyone has any questions about the vaccine, we can help them.”