Northampton General Hospital (NGH) became one of the first hospitals in the world to start giving out the coronavirus vaccine today (Tuesday, December 8).
The first hospital employee to receive the long-awaited vaccine was consultant maxillofacial surgeon Philip Ameerally.
“I feel very privileged as a frontline member of staff. It’s important I get vaccinated to protect my colleagues and our patients," he said.
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"I’m glad it came through so quickly and pleased to have had it."
NGH is one of the first 50 hubs in the country to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine after it was approved for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency last week.
Health service staff have been working around the clock to manage the huge logistical challenge of deploying it to the nation.
People aged over 80, care home workers and healthcare workers who are at the highest risk of serious illness from Covid-19 will be the first to be immunised.
All those vaccinated will need a booster dose 21 days later and members of the public will be contacted to be given an appointment to receive their vaccines.
NGH head of pathology Gus Lusack was also among the first members of staff to receive the vaccine.
“To be one of the first people to have the vaccine is exciting. It’s something we’ve been waiting on for a long time," he said.
“The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency website is very clear that the vaccine is safe and I would say to people: please take it.
"Don’t be afraid. It is the best thing you could do to get Covid under control."
GPs and other primary care staff have also been put on standby to start delivering the vaccine.
A number of GP-led primary care networks will begin doing so next week with more practices in more parts of the country joining in on a phased basis during December.
Countywide director for the covid vaccination programme, Chris Pallot, explained: “We are delighted that the vaccine is launching today in Northampton General and our first staff members have been vaccinated this morning.
"We are proud to be one of the first vaccination sites in the country. It is great news for Team NGH, for Northamptonshire, for the NHS, but most importantly for our patients and their families.
“We look forward to rolling out the vaccine to other sites around the county so we can start vaccinating more members of the public and NHS staff in the coming months as our coverage expands.
“It is the most effective way to protect ourselves from the virus and, hopefully, start our return to normal life again.”
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens added: “Coronavirus is the greatest health challenge in NHS history, taking loved ones from us and disrupting every part of our lives.
“Hospitals have now cared for more than 190,000 seriously ill Covid-19 patients and have seen beds fill up again in recent weeks.
“The deployment of this vaccine marks a decisive turning point in the battle with the pandemic.
"NHS vaccination programmes, which have successfully helped overcome tuberculosis, polio, and smallpox, now turn their focus to coronavirus.
“NHS staff are proud to be leading the way as the first health service in the world to begin vaccination with this Covid jab.”