Marking one million vaccinations

In December 2020, when our vaccination programme first began, the idea of us delivering more than 1 million doses to people across Surrey and Sussex seemed unimaginable – but this week we administered our millionth dose and we could not be more proud of what we’ve achieved.

So, as the latest phase of the programme comes to a close, it seems like a perfect time to take stock and reflect on the most extraordinary three years.

Throughout our vaccination efforts, we always wanted to remain true to our values, one of which is our passion for innovation. Delivering a vaccination programme – the likes of which we have never seen before – required us to think on our feet and use our creative approach to do things differently.

Together we launched one of the UK’s first vaccination sites in Crawley in December 2020, ensuring that we were reaching patients as early as possible. Just six weeks later, we unveiled the country’s first mobile vaccination unit, featuring in national webinars, and TV news bulletins as far afield as Brazil!

Alongside dedicated vaccination sites we stood up clinics in community centres, places of worship, homeless shelters, GRT sites, garden centres, shopping centres, local parks and more. We’ve done them all – meeting the community where they are and addressing equity of access.

And now almost three years later, we are in awe of the continued enthusiasm and resilience of our expanded team. At the height of the booster campaign, we were proud to have one of the highest uptakes in the South East and to this day, as the programme winds down, we’re recognised as a frontrunner and innovator in outreach delivery.

But while we celebrate the milestones, it’s definitely not just about the numbers. For us, the pandemic has brought us together – closer to our staff, our practices and partners and most importantly closer to our communities.

There are so many different people who we owe our thanks to – from the members of the public who volunteered their time, to the retired NHS workforce who stepped up to vaccinate. And of course, our General Practice members who did all this in addition to keeping their doors open and continuing to serve their patients.

We’re delighted that the impact of our work has also gone beyond the UK. In 2021 we launched a fundraising page that allowed visitors to our sites to donate to a dedicated Unicef vaccination fund. To date, the page has raised a phenomenal £14k and remains open for anyone wishing to still contribute.

So, thank you. To everyone who has contributed to our million and joined us in helping local people to live happier, healthier lives. We couldn’t have done it without you.