Covid-19 vaccine: Northern Devon patients get their first dose
- Credit: Tony Gussin
Hundreds of local people have been the first to receive the new Covid-19 vaccination in North Devon.
A steady stream of people aged 80 and over arrived at the mass vaccination facility set up at North Devon Leisure over three days this week, with Thursday, December 31 the final day.
Everyone who attended was contacted by the NHS with their appointment time and people have been reminded once again NOT to call themselves – those eligible will be contacted when it is their turn.
The vaccination centre was run by staff from 14 GP practices from across North Devon and Torridge, with patients attending from as far afield as Lynton and Hartland.
Marshals were provided by Barnstaple Rotary and Rotary Link plus Ilfracombe Round Table, while Barnstaple Shopmobility and Age Concern provided wheelchairs to help patients with mobility problems.
The Gazette was invited to go along on Wednesday, December 30 to meet staff and some patients.
The entire process was incredibly smooth – patients arrived at their appointed time, gave their name and were then ushered along socially distanced lanes to their vaccination station.
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After being vaccinated they were asked to sit down for 15 minutes and then were free to leave – the whole process took no more than 15 minutes.
Enid and Anthony Booth, aged 84 and 85, from Buckland Brewer were among those who had the vaccine.
Mrs Booth said the process had been ‘splendid, quick and easy’ with pleasant staff on hand.
She said she had not been out since March and added: “I would like to live a bit longer and see my grandchildren.”
Her message to others unsure of the vaccine was: “Don’t hesitate, for your own sakes and for the sake of the nation.”
Terence Phillips, aged 85 from Ilfracombe, said the process had been marvellous, relaxed and he had not even felt the needle.
He said: “I think everybody should have it, it’s getting very serious now. I have not been out and to be truthful, I am afraid to go out.
“I keep remembering I have come through the war years – when you were getting bombed every day you could not go out anyway!”
Sharon Bates, the practice manager at Litchdon Medical Centre in Barnstaple, was among GP staff overseeing the vaccinations.
She said during the three days they were using the 975 doses provided by the first consignment of the Pfizer BioNTec Covid-19 vaccine, which needed to be used within three-and-a-half days.
Mrs Bates said: “It has gone really well, it’s really smooth. There was a lot of time spent organising to ensure we could get the flow of patients safely and socially distanced. We wanted to make sure everybody felt safe and not over-crowded.
“Patients have been so grateful to be here and have the vaccine. We have had patients say they have not been out of the house for months and this was just such a good opportunity.”
The patients being vaccinated during the week were all given appointments for three week’s time to return and receive their second and final vaccination dose.
Mrs Bates said they had as yet not been given a date for when the next vaccine consignment would arrive, but the new Oxford AstraZeneca a vaccine had also now been licensed for use in the UK.
She said: “We would hope to be able to have a combination of both, to do big clinics like this but also to do some in individual practices as well.
“The surgeries will contact all their patients – there is no need to ring, you will be contacted over the next weeks and months as soon as the vaccine is available for you.”
North Devon District Hospital is also offering the vaccine to patients aged 80 and above who are attending hospital as an outpatient.
Any appointments not used for priority groups will be used for healthcare workers who are at highest risk of serious illness from Covid-19.
Among those receiving a jab on the first day (Tuesday, December 29) of vaccination at the hospital was 90-year-old Hector Delbridge, who said: “I was seeing the specialist today and then I came down for the vaccine - it was like two birds with one stone. The vaccine will be a relief to everybody.”