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9 December 2020

Aubrey Bass is interviewed by BBC TV after receiving the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccineFrimley Health NHS Foundation Trust was yesterday among the first hospital trusts in England to begin rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine to vulnerable patients, staff and members of the community.

It came on the day NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens described the deployment as “a decisive turning point” in the battle against the pandemic.

Frimley Health’s Wexham Park Hospital in Slough is one of 50 hospital hubs taking part in the immunisation campaign this week, with more starting vaccinations over the coming weeks and months as the programme ramps up.

Since the Pfizer vaccine got the green light from regulators last week, health service staff have been working around the clock to manage the huge-scale logistical challenge of deploying the vaccine.

People aged 80 and over as well as care home workers are the first to receive the jab this week, along with NHS workers who are at higher risk of serious illness.

All those vaccinated will need a booster jab 21 days later.

Tracey Coulson, lead nurse for the programme at Frimley Health, administered the first vaccine at Wexham Park at 8.15am on Tuesday.

Frimley Health chief executive Neil Dardis said: I am incredibly proud of the Frimley Health team and the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes to ensure we are one of the first trusts in the UK to start delivering the vaccine.

“This may be only the beginning of a long process to get the nation back to normality, however it is still a momentous day and we feel privileged to be playing such a key role in it.

“It is remarkable to think that within 10 months of the first coronavirus cases being recorded in the country, we now have a vaccine to start protecting the most vulnerable in our society and frontline staff who are most at risk.”

Among the first people to get the vaccine at Wexham was 96-year-old Aubrey Bass, a retired headteacher from Farnham Common near Slough. He has been shielding since March.

Speaking before he received the vaccine, he said: “I’ve been stuck in my house for as long as I can remember and, although I have wonderful neighbours, I can’t wait to have the vaccine and just be able to go out and live again.”

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.

Across England, GPs and other primary care staff have been put on standby to start delivering the jab. 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.

Vaccination centres treating large numbers of patients in sporting venues and conference centres will subsequently stand up when further supplies of vaccine come on stream.