Professor Mike Holmes, who leads York’s vaccination centre at Askham Bar, tells in his latest column for The Press how important it is for everyone eligible to book a jab if they haven’t yet done so

IT was just two weeks ago that I wrote about how York had contributed towards a total of 15 million Covid vaccinations – this has now increased to 20million – an outstanding achievement.

This region alone– the Humber, Coast and Vale – has vaccinated around 600,000 people and each day our teams are vaccinating thousands more and we have down broken through the 80,000 vaccines point at Askham Bar.

We now move to vaccinating the next priority group – Group 7 – which includes people over 60 years old.

GP practices in York are continuing to invite people in priority group 6 – those with underlying health conditions, unpaid carers and adults on the GP learning disability register.

People in group 6 will be contacted by the local vaccination service and invited to come to Askham Bar or one of the satellite sites such as Haxby Group or Pocklington surgeries.

But we continue to urge people who haven’t yet come forward to book an appointment.

We know from the York patient vaccination figures that there are some people who still haven’t yet booked their vaccination appointment.

Despite the letters, texts and phone calls, they are yet to book.

Nine in 10 people in the top four priority groups have had their first dose and there’s early signs that the vaccination programme is contributing to the fall in the number of people admitted to hospital with coronavirus.

So I can’t stress enough how important it is for people to be protected – not just for themselves, but for our communities.

This is on our minds more than ever this week as we hear about new variants.

For me the words of Professor Van Tam seem more important than ever – there is a long way to go and ‘let’s not wreck this now’.

The way we have pulled together as a community fills me with optimism that we will continue to follow the guidance and we will get through this together – right to the end.

Before we set up the site at Askham Bar, we chose the site very carefully to give people great access from York and the surrounding areas.

So if you haven’t got a car, you can get a bus right to our door step.

If you come on foot or bike, just skip the queues and go straight to the walk in entrance opposite the Tesco petrol station, buses that stop there are the 3, 3A (evenings only) and 13.

We have an area next to the pedestrian entrance where bikes can be left safely.

We are working to develop further car parking facilities to increase the pedestrian access as we move down through the age groups announced by the secretary of state on Friday.

We are also committed to making sure everyone gets an opportunity to be vaccinated and are working with all stakeholders in the city to ensure that happens.

We recognise that not everyone can get to Askham Bar, the satellite clinics or community pharmacy and we’ll be putting specific and additional services in place.

York organisations who can help with transport include:

*York Wheels offer transport for a small charge - 01904 630080

*The Home from Hospital service based at York Hospital offer transport to vaccination appointments - call 01904 726191 open 7 days a week 8am til 7pm

*The Ambulance Wish Foundaiton in York is offering free transport for anyone in a wheelchair to the site in their wheelchair friendly vehicles - (01904) 530053

*York CVS , Age UK and York Council also have support teams who may be able to help.