By James Harrison Local Democracy Reporter

Sunderland’s top GP has urged families to accept a COVID-19 vaccine if they are offered one.

A jab developed by German pharmaceutical firm BioNTech is due to start being rolled out across the city from today 14 December.

But concerns about misinformation about the treatment has prompted health leaders to offer Wearside families extra reassurance.

“The vaccine is safe,” said Dr Ian Pattison, executive GP and clinical chair at Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

“I know a lot of people have had concerns about that, but if I was offered the vaccine, I would have it.

“It is considered safe by every GP I’ve spoken to in the city.”

Dr Pattison was speaking at this afternoon’s (Friday, December 11) meeting of Sunderland City Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

The first doses of the BioNTech vaccine outside a clinical trial were administered on Tuesday (December 8).

Concerns about its safety were raised after NHS workers suffered allergic reactions shortly after being given the jab, but both had a medical history of such reactions before receiving the treatment.

While the vaccine presents the first steps out of the pandemic, however, Dr Pattison has urged the public to remain vigilant while the roll out continues.

He added: “Despite the vaccine starting this is a monumental effort and it will take time for our population to start to benefit from it.

“Particularly over the festive period, when more mixing might take place, be careful and adhere to the rules.

“We don’t want another outbreak which will see us climbing back up the figures and going backward just as the vaccine arrives.”