THE first round of door-to-door coronavirus vaccinations for some of County Durham’s most vulnerable patients is expected to be finished within days.

Rollout of the jab programme started late last year in care homes and GP practices, later expanding to facilities such as the mass vaccination centres set up in Newcastle and Washington.

And health chiefs hope that everyone in a priority group but who has been unable to leave their home since the start of the initiative will have had a jab by Monday, February 15.

“There are some people who are shielding who haven’t been contacted by their GP to go into surgeries, but we are going out to vaccinate housebound patients,” said Michael Laing, director of integrated community services at the County Durham Care Partnership (CDPC).

“There will be some people who are housebound, in the Dales and elsewhere in County Durham, who can’t travel.

“So far community nursing staff have vaccinated around about 2,500 housebound patients, out of a list of 3,600 – we’re working through that list and by (Monday) February 15, if not slightly before, will have vaccinated all housebound residents in the county.”

Laing was speaking at last week’s (Friday, February 5) meeting of Durham County Council’s Adults, Wellbeing and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

First doses are believed to now have been given to all care home residents in County Durham, except in care homes where there is currently an outbreak of COVID-19.

More than 4,200 care home staff have been vaccinated in the county, accounting for about three quarters of workers in the sector, with efforts continuing for those who have either missed out so far or declined a jab.

Elsewhere in the North East, NHS bosses in South Tyneside said they were on track to  have completed their own door-to-door vaccination programme by Sunday (February 7).

The effort, which has been led by the borough’s pharmacists, covered about 1,500 people registered as housebound, as well as a further 500 ‘house-tied’ carers, who would otherwise have found it difficult to get their own jab due to their responsibilities.