Joint statement from the seven council Leaders and Mayor, North of Tyne Mayor, and Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner:
"Following the most difficult year many of us have ever faced, news of the first 15 million of the most vulnerable people in the United Kingdom receiving their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine is incredibly welcome.
"Many of those people are from within our own communities, and it gives great hope of better things to come as more and more of our friends, relatives, neighbours and colleagues come forward for their vaccinations.
"We all owe our sincerest gratitude to the many NHS and local authority workers, volunteers and others involved in this enormous vaccination programme, and we urge everybody to take up the offer of a vaccine when contacted to make an appointment.
"There is further cause for cautious optimism as the number of infections we are seeing across the region as they continue to gradually decrease. This is thanks to the efforts of everyone doing their bit to follow the rules.
"The way out of lockdown is to carry on driving down infection rates and reducing the pressure on the NHS.
"Soon we will learn the Government's intentions with regards to easing lockdown restrictions and our position remains the same. Our children to return to the classroom as soon as it is safe for them to do so, our businesses need continued support to survive the pandemic and we need the tool and resources to lead our own North East recovery.
"Covid-19 will be with us for a long time to come, but we are best placed to help our region recovery quickly but sustainably.
"This will require the continued efforts of all our communities, and we want to thank everyone for what they have done so far. While we await a brighter future, we would ask residents to please continue following the rules, maintain the Hands, Face, Space guidance and, as we have maintained throughout, we will come through this pandemic together."
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