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Medway 100-year-old twins delighted to get Covid vaccine on same day in Rochester

Two inseparable 100-year-old identical twins received their Covid vaccines this week and were delighted to get their jabs together.

Dorothy Sivyer and Kathleen Whitehead, who live together in Rochester, celebrated their centenary in socially-distanced fashion last August.

Twins Dorothy Sivyer and Kathleen Whitehead, from Medway, who are 100 both received their coronavirus vaccine jabs in Rochester. Picture: NHS Kent and Medway CCG
Twins Dorothy Sivyer and Kathleen Whitehead, from Medway, who are 100 both received their coronavirus vaccine jabs in Rochester. Picture: NHS Kent and Medway CCG

And just like the major events throughout their lifetimes so far, the sisters were side-by-side once again as they were given the coronavirus jabs on Wednesday.

The ladies, believed to be the UK's oldest identical twins, were vaccinated at the Rochester Healthy Living Centre.

Kathleen said: “It’s very exciting. We haven’t been out much lately and are keeping safe at home. But it’s important to have this vaccination so we can all get on with life.

"People shouldn’t be afraid to get it. It will help us all get back to normal.”

Dorothy worked at St Bart's Hospital in Rochester the NHS as a radiographer after serving as a nurse to treat wounded soldiers from D-Day in the Second World War.

Twins Dorothy Sivyer and Kathleen Whitehead, from Medway, who are 100 both received their coronavirus vaccine jabs in Rochester. Picture: NHS Kent and Medway CCG
Twins Dorothy Sivyer and Kathleen Whitehead, from Medway, who are 100 both received their coronavirus vaccine jabs in Rochester. Picture: NHS Kent and Medway CCG

She added: “We do most things together so of course we were going to do this together too. We’re very grateful to be getting the vaccination.”

Kathleen became a primary school teacher in Medway after the war when she was conscripted to the Women's Auxiliary Air Force.

The twins said they felt the successors in their respective professions are "doing a marvellous job in difficult times”.

The sisters put their long lives down to hard work, healthy living and their strong Christian faith.

Dorothy's daughter Rosie said: "As far as I know it went well. They've just been bored generally – they've been at home and not seeing anyone because we've not been able to go over there.

"We're just relieved they've got their vaccine and just hope they keep safe."

Twins Dorothy Sivyer and Kathleen Whitehead, from Medway, who are 100 both received their coronavirus vaccine jabs in Rochester. Picture: NHS Kent and Medway CCG
Twins Dorothy Sivyer and Kathleen Whitehead, from Medway, who are 100 both received their coronavirus vaccine jabs in Rochester. Picture: NHS Kent and Medway CCG

The sisters have moved in together since the first lockdown and are being looked after by their carers.

Rosie added: "They've been together since March and I think they would miss each other after all this time.

"They're happy but they're bored. They love it when the carers play games or do quizzes. A lot of the time they're watching the TV.

"I think they can't wait for the weather to get better because they like being outside. Yesterday was the first time they had been out for a long time.

"They just took it in their own time. They just don't worry. They're that generation."

Hannah Dowling, the sisters' carer, said:"It was all absolutely fine, and they're fine.

Twins Kathleen Whitehad(left) and Dorothy Sivyer
Twins Kathleen Whitehad(left) and Dorothy Sivyer

"They've got some amazing stories. They both served their countries in the war - they were both conscripted and had important jobs, like lots of other people of course, but lots of other people aren't around to tell the tale.

"Dorothy was a radiographer and helped with the Normandy landings. She was at Winchester Hospital x-raying soldiers and German prisoners.

"Kathleen was a radar operator and she helped to direct planes from risky areas.

"The war stories are always something they remember. If you ask them about their best times they will tell you the war. I think probably because it had such a profound effect."

Dr Peter Gilbert, the leading GP running the military style operation to deliver vaccinations at the Rochester Healthy Living Centre and Lordswood Healthy Living Centre for three primary care network (PCNs) areas in Medway said it's been an exhausting process.

The network has already completed the vaccinations of its elderly care home residents and staff.

"We do most things together so of course we were going to do this together too..."

Dr Gilbert, who served alongside the army a medic at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, said: "Covid is for many people an absolutely devastating illness.

"There are a few times in the life of most doctors and certainly in the life of general practice when you can feel you are really making an immediate difference to people’s lives and potentially saving people’s lives.

"We’re finding people are incredibly grateful. Many of them haven’t been outside of their houses since March and that has two effects.

"One, they are so pleased it’s happening but for many it’s a really emotional experience and their first time seeing people.

"It’s a kind of exhaustion that makes you feel that you’ve really done something good and something positive. A feeling that I probably last had when I was in the UK hospital in Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.”

Just under five million people have now received their first dose of a vaccine with government figures showing 4,973,248 people had been innoculated as of Wednesday. A further 464,036 people have also received their second dose.

Radiographer Dorothy Sivyer
Radiographer Dorothy Sivyer

It means the government is now a third of the way to its target of vaccinating the most vulnerable and at risk people in the community and key workers by mid-February.

Those 15 million people in the top four priority categories make up 88% of those most likely to fall seriously ill or die from the virus.

Earlier this week, the NHS in Kent and Medway confirmed all of its 43 primary care areas have plans in place to open vaccination centres.

Kathleen Whitehead (40764762)
Kathleen Whitehead (40764762)

The final PCN to be approved was in Hoo where fears about the time it had taken to get moving had been raised by Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst, patients and others.

Dr Gilbert, whose practice is the Thorndike Centre in Rochester, continued to urge for patience among the public to wait for their GP surgery to contact them for an appointment to attend a vaccination centre.

He also praised the army of volunteers signing up to help process vaccination clinics every day to support the roll out.

“We couldn’t do it without the volunteers,” he said. “They are doing a fantastic job.”

It comes as Kent's first mass vaccination centre was confirmed to be opening in Folkestone next week after MP Damian Collins questioned health secretary Matt Hancock in the Commons this afternoon.

More information on the vaccination programme visit the NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group website.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Medway

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