Published: 17:07, 22 February 2021
| Updated: 18:54, 22 February 2021
A grandad-of-six who almost died of Covid was one of the first people to receive his vaccination at the county's newest vaccine centre which opened today.
Richard Denyer had the jab at the former Saga call centre in Ramsgate, which shut in January after the 600 employees based there started working from home permanently.
Kent's fourth mass vaccine centre opens
The 66-year-old spent a month battling the disease just before Christmas and was given a 20 per cent chance of survival.
But today he was given the life-saving jab in what is Kent's fourth vaccination centre with his wife of 46 years, Teresa, who has Alzhiemer’s, by his side.
He said: "This is a devastating disease and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, I would encourage everyone to have the vaccine.
"My wife and I ended up in hospital with Covid before Christmas and spent a month there. We had been so careful, but I think we caught it in a shop.
"Teresa became so ill three days later, she couldn’t get out of bed. I called 111 and she ended up in the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital on oxygen.
"I probably should have gone to hospital at the same time, but I thought I would be okay. I ended up in a different hospital ward days later on 85 per cent oxygen. I was told my chances of survival weren’t good.
"I was in hospital with seven other people, I came out in a wheelchair, four others didn’t come out at all.
"I owe those hospital staff my life. They were wonderful and I can never repay them. I have been waiting for this vaccine ever since and I am so delighted to have it."
The retired police officer, from Herne Bay, is still suffering from scarring on his lungs.
"The thing I’m looking forward to the most is seeing my family and my grandchildren; we have a new five-month-old grandson Oliver, who we have never held," he said.
'The vaccine gives us all hope' - Susan Turner
Vaccination centre staff worked tirelessly inoculating vulnerable people and those living within a 45-minute drive.
Grandmother-of-five step children Susan Turner was also one of the first people to be vaccinated.
She admitted she was a little bit anxious but pleased once she had had her first jab.
"I just want to be able to hug my mum," she said.
"She’s 97 and while we deliver her shopping I’m just missing putting my arms around her and this brings this a step closer – the vaccine gives us all hope. We have been so careful and not seen anyone."
Like Folkestone, Gravesend and Tonbridge, the Thanet centre is open to people aged 65 and over. Invitations to people in priority cohort five (over 65s) were sent last week.
Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Paul Bentley said: "Every time I stand in one of our large-scale vaccination centres, I am in awe of what has been achieved in such a short space of time, not only in the way we have been able to transform spaces with the help of so many partners, but also the speed at which we are rolling out the vaccination programme itself.
"Thanet is the fourth one to join the family of large-scale centres in Kent and Medway and with Medway to come, we are confident we will have all areas of the county covered.
"If you are in the eligible priority groups, please do make your appointment to be vaccinated.’"
Please respond to your invitation letter and book a vaccination appointment if you are aged 65 or over.
People who were recently added to the Government’s shielding list and adult carerswho receive carers’ allowance can also book an appointment by visiting www.nhs.uk/covidvaccination, or phoning 119, if they can’t use the internet.
This week, letters will also be going out to local people, who are aged 64, inviting them to book.
Appointments are available at vaccination centres and community pharmacy hubs.
If people have already been given an appointment by their local GP-led service, they should attend that and not book another through the national service.