Hartlepool public praised for vaccine response - as TV football gatherings are blamed for Covid spike

Public health chiefs have thanked residents for answering a call to get vaccinated after a pop-up Covid clinic proved extremely popular.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 4:45 am

About 130 people were jabbed at the clinic at St Aidan’s Church car park, in Hartlepool, on Thursday morning after long queues of people quickly formed.

But the director of public health for Hartlepool has expressed concerns that people gathering in pubs to watch the Euros football are largely behind a “very significant spike” in cases of the virus among young men in town.

Most of those attending the walk-in clinic were aged 35 and under.

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Members of the public queuing to use the walk-in Covid clinic in the car park at St Aidans Church, Hartlepool. Picture by FRANK REID

After only around 90 minutes it reached capacity and Hartlepool Borough Council asked no more people to attend.

Tony O’Ceallaigh, the council’s lead for Covid testing, said: “We’re really overwhelmed by how much people embraced the vaccine programme and how good natured it was which staff from the NHS commented on.”

First and second doses of the Oxford AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines were given.

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The clinic was a collaboration between Hartlepool Borough Council, the NHS and Cleveland Fire Brigade. Picture by FRANK REID

More pop-up clinics in town are to be held as part of the drive to give people the best protection.

One will take place at Victoria Road Medical Centre on Saturday, July 24, between 9am-5pm and is open to anyone aged 18 and over.

Mr O’Ceallaigh added: “Today has shown there’s a public appetite for this type of pop up clinic so we’ve got an opportunity now to maximise that by providing as many like this as we can.”

In a separate update to councillors on Thursday, Hartlepool’s director of public health Craig Blundred said there had been a big spike in cases among men aged 20-24 over the last fortnight.

He said: “What’s causing this is probably no surprise, football figures highly in this, people in pubs, mixing in pubs, watching football matches probably goes some significant way towards explaining why that spike in that particular age group and gender is as strong as it is.

“That’s my major concern at the moment is we are seeing those increases at a point in time that we are starting to open up.”

Talking about walk-in clinics, he added: “We are very keen to get everybody vaccinated as quickly as we possibly can, hopefully that will increase those numbers particularly in the younger age group as we go forward over the summer."

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