It seems like only yesterday, but it is six months today that the first public COVID-19 vaccination took place in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent.
Over 1,250,000 vaccines have been delivered since the first dose on Tuesday December 15 at Ryecroft Medical Centre in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Today, thousands more will be benefiting from first and second doses across the area.
Last week, even undergraduates joined the queues to get jabs as both Keele and Staffordshire Universities held their own special vaccination clinics.
Dr Paddy Hannigan, Leader of the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent’s Vaccination Programme, gave his first jab at Stafford’s County Showground the day after the programme started.
He said: “Universities, a Cathedral, factories, sports clubs, even pub car parks – they’ve all played a part in making the programme the success it has been.
“But planning for the vaccination programme started in our GP practices months before there was even a licensed vaccine. We also need to remember that there is still a long way to go.
“There have been a lot of challenges along the way, and we still have hurdles to overcome. However, giving the first dose to our oldest and most vulnerable patients was a wonderful early Christmas present, and seeing students and other young people now getting protected feels just as good in its own way.
“Everyone involved deserves enormous praise, especially everyone who has rolled up their sleeves to get protected.”
Neil Carr, Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (MPFT) Chief Executive and Senior Responsible Officer for the programme, said: “The work which has taken place over the past six months to mobilise the vaccination programme across Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent has been truly phenomenal.
“I would like to extend my thanks to everyone involved which includes volunteers, GPs and practice staff, hospital staff, vaccination centre staff and every other member of staff who has been involved to keep our citizens safe.”
Anybody aged 25 or over can now book their vaccine via the national portal or by calling 119.