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Statement from local leaders - 1 February 2021

Joint statement from the seven council Leaders and Mayor, North of Tyne Mayor, and Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner:

"Great progress is being made in our communities with the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, with many of those in the highest priority groups receiving at least their first dose. We are proud the North East is being recognised for leading the way.

"We know from feedback from those administering jabs at vaccination centres and care homes that the vast majority of people are taking up the offer of a free vaccine, and this is incredibly pleasing to see.

"Our community champions are working closely with wider communities and the small number of people who have declined the vaccine, to give them accurate information and counter some of the dangerous anti-vax stories circulating on social media and elsewhere.

"These vaccines are meticulously reviewed prior to approval to ensure their safety for use, and we would encourage people to have the vaccine when the time comes to make an appointment.

"Our sincerest thanks go to all health colleagues and the many volunteers who are working tirelessly to deliver this vaccination programme in order to protect our most vulnerable residents as quickly as possible, but we know it will take many more months before everybody is vaccinated.

"That is why we must continue to stay at home, and follow the Hands, Face, Space guidance at all times. Having the vaccine will mean people are far less likely to become seriously ill with Covid-19, but we do not yet know if it will prevent people from contracting the virus or spreading it to others.

"The vaccines are not a free pass to return to our normal routines and therefore we cannot afford any complacency and must continue to follow the rules at all times.

"Sadly, we are also aware of reports of a number of scams relating to the virus, often purporting to be from the NHS and soliciting money. You will never be asked for financial details or payment for your Covid-19 vaccine. If you are asked, do not respond.

"While more and more people are receiving their vaccinations, the significant efforts of our communities to follow the current lockdown restrictions is also having a significant impact with infection rates going in the right direction. We would urge everyone to persevere in the knowledge you are making a difference and helping to save lives.

"Please, stay at home except for the permitted reasons and together we can protect our local NHS services and save more lives being lost to this terrible virus. Thank you."

Cllr Simon Henig, CBE, Leader, Durham County Council  
Cllr Martin Gannon, Leader, Gateshead Council  
Cllr Nick Forbes, CBE, Leader, Newcastle City Council  
Norma Redfearn CBE, Elected Mayor, North Tyneside Council  
Cllr Glen Sanderson, Leader, Northumberland County Council  
Cllr Tracey Dixon, Leader, South Tyneside Council  
Cllr Graeme Miller, Leader, Sunderland City Council  
Jamie Driscoll, North of Tyne Mayor  
Kim McGuinness, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner  

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