Life-saving COVID-19 vaccine rolled out in our area from today
- Credit: Archant
COVID-19 vaccinations have started to be administered in hospitals across the country today, with Stevenage’s Lister Hospital included in the first wave.
As the mass vaccination programme is rolled out, there are 50 hospital hubs administering the first batches, including the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, Cambridge University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust.
People aged 80 and over as well as care home workers will be first to receive the injection, along with NHS workers who are at higher risk. All those vaccinated will need a booster jab 21 days later.
The life-saving vaccine is typically delivered by a simple injection but there is a complex and difficult logistical challenge to deliver from the manufacturers Pfizer to patients.
It needs to be stored at -70C before being thawed out and can only be moved four times within that cold chain before being used.
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As the vaccination programme is ramped up, more hospital trusts will be able to administer the vaccine, as well as GP surgeries, pharmacies and large vaccination centres – one of which will be in Stevenage.
A spokesman for the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs Lister Hospital, said: “We are contacting people who are eligible for the vaccine, including people over 80 years old and people who work in care homes. Please do not contact us for an appointment – you will be contacted when it is your turn to have the vaccine.”
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Councillor Sharon Taylor, leader of Stevenage Borough Council, said: “We have all had a terribly tough year, so this is the light at the end of the tunnel and it’s good to see this rolled out as quickly as it is.
“It does cause some issues however, so just a plea from me to all our colleagues at the NHS – we know how quickly you are having to do this, but we have seen over and over again during the pandemic that some of the local knowledge we have in local government can be incredibly useful in driving these kinds of campaigns on the ground. Do get us involved. We won’t hold things up. What we will try to do is smooth the path.
“It’s some good news at last, in what’s been an awful year.”
Cllr Taylor suggested the borough council could help with car parking for the mass vaccination centre, as well as reception duties, for instance.
Caroline Clarke, chief executive of the Royal Free, said: “We are proud to have been named as one of the first hubs in the NHS to roll out the first COVID-19 vaccine.
“It is an incredibly exciting moment in our battle against this devastating virus and we cannot wait to get started to protect those who are most vulnerable.”