The weeks ahead will see no further mass vaccination clinics as the huge programme which began six months ago on the Western Isles continues to wind down.
There were no new cases of Covid-19 yesterday (Saturday July 4) across the Western Isles.
Stornoway firefighters and coastguard rescue team members turned turn out for a shout with a difference on Friday (2 July) – their final shift at a Covid vaccination clinic.
Mass vaccination clinics in public buildings are coming to an end, with the Covid clinic last Sunday (27 June) at Balivanich Hall the final vaccination session to be held there.
Stornoway’s last mass vaccination clinic was at the Caberfeidh Hotel on Friday and clinics in Tarbert, Uist and Barra have already concluded.
From now on the vaccination campaign will be held within clinical premises as part of NHS activity.
The response of partners from Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, HM Coastguard, Police Scotland and other agencies has drawn tremendous praise and admiration from the public and from NHS Western Isles alike.
Providing stewarding, traffic management, transport and safety cover for the mass vaccination clinics, teams of volunteers have coped with long days in baking heat, blizzards and pouring rain.
NHS Western Isles has repeatedly highlighted the invaluable contribution of other agencies to their delivery of an extremely high percentage of people who have received one or both of their Covid jags.
Speaking after the last Benbecula clinic finished, Benbecula SFRS watch commander Donald Graham said: “Today was our last day at Balivanich Hall stewarding, alongside the Coastguard – giving us the opportunity to work with other agencies for a worthy cause which benefits our island’s community.
“It has been a struggle to keep appliances on the run and crews at the hall, but we have managed. It's nice to feel appreciated and valued from the local community and NHS Services.”
SFRS group commander Dougie Campbell sent his thanks to the crew members who had participated in the duty, volunteering their time to assist with an important piece of community work.
He said: “I am genuinely proud of our crews for the commitment shown. We will always assist where we can and thank you for the commitment and professionalism shown throughout the process. This is a great piece of work. Well done.”
HM Castguard coastal area commander Murdo Macaulay also congratulated the coastguard rescue team (CRT) members who had turned out, time after time, for duty at Covid clinics through the islands.
He said: “HM Coastguard is proud to have supported NHS Western Isles, other partner services and the wider community of the Western Isles in the rollout of the covid-19 vaccination programme.
“We have been present at every clinic providing patient reception and assistance, traffic marshalling and general duties to ensure the safe and efficient running of the sites. We have also run the patient transport service to enable those without their own transport to get safely into and home from these clinics.
“This commitment, although reducing, will continue as the clinics move into healthcare settings from this weekend onwards.
“Outside the clinics we have taken on other tasks to free up NHS resources – most notably the pick-up and transport of tests to Stornoway from Uist and Barra during the outbreaks. During this time, we remained ready to respond to our core role of search and rescue at all times.
“It has been our pleasure and privilege to support the community effort to complete this huge step towards normality. Thanks for the kindness, and many donations of hot drinks, baking and cards – it was all very much appreciated.”
Involved in the clinics from HM Coastguard were coastal operations area commander Murdo Macaulay, senior coastal operations officers David Smith and Ron Maclean and coastguard rescue officers from teams in Barra, Uist, Lewis and Harris.
The pictures show NHS staff with supporters from HM Coastguard and SFRS at the final clinic in Balivanich on Sunday, and at clinics in Stornoway and Barra earlier this year (SFRS, HM Coastguard) and part of the vast publicity drive, this time involving Alasdair Allan, MSP.