Published: 13:04, 15 December 2020
| Updated: 14:12, 30 December 2020
Elderly patients lined the entrance to a hospital today as they became the first people in a Covid-hit Kent town to receive coronavirus vaccines.
The injections are being given to almost 1,000 over-80s at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital in Herne Bay.
The town currently has one of the highest infection rates in the country, and accounts for more than 40% of all new cases across the Canterbury district.
So the vaccination programme, which offers recipients 95% protection, cannot come soon enough.
Beltinge resident Winifred Prett, who was the first in the town to be jabbed this morning, is looking forward to going shopping once she receives the second dose of the vaccine in three weeks’ time.
“It would be nice to get out,” she said.
“[The vaccination] was fine. It was just a little prick.
“I was expecting it to be the same as the flu jab, and it was. There’s nothing wrong with it, it doesn’t hurt – go and get it.”
Eighty-three-year-old Roger Wise was also one of the first through the doors at the hospital this morning.
The Greenhill octogenarian is excited to see his granddaughter once he is fully immunised.
“It felt just like a flu jab – it was a scratch,” he said.
"I'm a bit relieved that there's something on the horizon to take the danger away.
"I'll be able to go out more and mix with people again."
Herne Bay’s Primary Care Network (PCN), a collaboration of the town’s practices, was one of just nine across the county - and the first in the district - to have been sent the first batch of vaccines.
It will be injecting the select group of patients – who were invited into the hospital – over the next three days.
It comes as new government figures show a huge increase in Covid outbreaks in the Herne Bay, with rates rising to almost 800 cases per 100,000 people.
Herne Bay South and Greenhill is the worst-hit area, registering 81 positive tests in the week up to December 9.
PCN clinical director Dr Jeremy Carter says medics across the town have seen a “significant” rise in diagnoses in recent weeks.
“The numbers of positive cases are going up significantly. We’re feeling this rise locally,” he said.
“On the whole, it’s younger patients – yet we are still seeing vulnerable patients falling ill and going to hospital.
“As rates go up, it’s the logical next step to assume that people will die from it.
“It’s also affecting our teams – either staff are being Covid positive or being contact-traced. Despite that, we’re still running the surgeries, these vaccine clinics, as well as running our biggest flu campaign.”
Patients are being asked to remain at the hospital for a further 15 minutes after the vaccine is administered to ensure they do not suffer any allergic reactions to the injection.
The move is a precaution that has been added after two NHS workers had anaphylactoid reactions to the jab.
“As is appropriate, the regulators said anyone with a history of anaphylaxis should not have this vaccine and that every patient should be kept for 15 minutes to make sure they’re fine,” Dr Carter explained.
“Bearing in mind this vaccine gives a 95% protection rate against coronavirus and some of the patients today are 90-odd to 100 years old, we’ve now got a solution for them.”
She said: "I may be old with two artificial knees, two artificial hips and a gammy foot but I'm not ready to go just yet so I jumped at the chance to have this vaccine.
"I got a phone call last Monday to say I was one of the first."