History has been made as Cumbrians were among the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
As the vaccine was rolled out today, Tuesday December 8, patients and staff received their first dose of the Pfzier vaccine – the second dose will be needed in 21 days.
The first patient to receive the vaccine in Cumbria was 80-year-old Agnes Hardy, from Kells in Whitehaven.
She said: “I’m honoured to be the first patient to have the vaccine today, it great news for the area. I wanted to have it so I am a step closer to seeing my family again, as I have been shielding.”
Staff from North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Trust Cumbria are administering the vaccine to those in the government’s priority groups, including those over 80, care home staff and frontline staff.
Chief nurse Anna Stabler said: “We are delighted that our staff and patients are among the first in the world to receive this ground-breaking vaccine. In this first week we are concentrating on ensuring our most vulnerable get the protection first.
“We are inviting people to come and get their jab in order of the government’s priority list, please come when you are invited. This is the start of a long process to deliver the vaccine across the county and we urge people to bear with us while this is rolled out.”
Cumbria managed to secure the vaccine after a huge logistical feat to ensure all processes were in place to enable the storage and administration of the jabs.
Paul Fieldhouse, Clinical Director for the Trust’s pharmacy services said: “We pulled out all the stops to make sure that Cumbria was in the first roll out. A dedicated team consisting of pharmacy colleagues, estates, nursing leads, HR, IT, infection prevention, health and safety and finance worked round the clock to make sure that Cumbria was given the priority it needs to fight this virus.
“I am so very proud that we managed to do it and we are now in the best position we can be in order to protect the people in north Cumbria.”
The Pfzier vaccine needs to be stored at incredibly low temperatures and the facilities to do that were only available at the West Cumberland Hospital.
The roll out across Cumbria is expected in the near future as other vaccines are approved and advances continue with the Pfizer vaccine. There are currently no timelines for this.
One concern was that care home staff and patients would receive the vaccine, however, one the first care home staff to get the vaccine was Caroline Kennedy who works at the Gables Care Home in Whitehaven.
She said: “I’m so excited that the vaccine is coming here first, mainly for our service users, they’re so down at the minute not seeing their families. This will hopefully be the start of us getting back to some form of normality for them.”