Local health and care leaders have praised the efforts of hardworking staff for making the roll out of a Covid-19 vaccine possible.
Southmead hospital in Bristol is one of 50 hospital hubs to become operational across the country this week, with more to be announced in the coming weeks and months as the programme ramps up.
Since the Pfizer vaccine got the green light from regulators last week, staff from across the area have been working around the clock to manage the large-scale logistical challenge of deploying the vaccine.
Dr Tim Whittlestone, Clinical Director at North Bristol NHS Trust, said:
This is a historic moment for the country, and I want to thank staff across our health and care system who have worked incredibly hard to get us ready to deliver the vaccine locally.
We are delighted to be able to begin vaccination in Bristol today – focusing on the over 80s, care home staff, and other health and care staff facing the highest risk from Covid-19. We will continue to follow the national prioritisation guidance as the programme rolls out, and as the range of places in which people can receive the immunisation expands.
People will be invited to attend an appointment directly – there is no need to call us – and we ask everyone to continue to follow guidance including Hands Face Space and maintaining good hand hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus.”
Ninety-eight-year-old Jack Vokes from Alveston, in South Gloucestershire, was the first person locally to receive the vaccine.
I hope I’ve helped by having this in advance. I live in hope that by the middle of next year we’ll hopefully be living a normal life.
People aged 80 and over as well as care home workers will be first to receive the jab this week, along with NHS workers who are at higher risk.
Staff at Southmead have begun inviting over 80s to receive the jab and, have been working closely with Local Authorities and care home providers to book their staff in to vaccination clinics.
Any appointments not used for these most at-risk groups will be used for healthcare workers who are at highest risk of serious illness from covid. All those vaccinated will need a booster jab between 21 and 35 days later.
NHS national medical director, Professor Stephen Powis has warned that the roll out of a vaccine will be a marathon not a sprint.
The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at -70C before being thawed out and can only be moved four times within that cold chain before being used.