THE first patients to be vaccinated at St Helens Rugby Club Stadium, the first NHS Mass Vaccination Centre in Cheshire & Merseyside, have spoken of their "excitement" to be getting the lifesaving Covid-19 jab.
The large-scale vaccination facility which opened its doors on Monday 18th January at the Totally Wicked Rugby League Stadium in St Helens will be able to deliver thousands of Covid-19 vaccines every week as part of the national vaccination programme. The venue has been launched in addition to already established local GP-led and hospital vaccine services.
The centre will initially be vaccinating people over the age of 80 and health and social care workers who have been invited to attend by booking an appointment through the national booking service online or over the phone.
The vaccine being used at the centre is the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine which has been proven to be safe and effective and has been independently authorised by the MHRA for use in the UK.
The first patients to be vaccinated today were Sarah and Derek Platt, Ken Daniels, and John Norcross
83-year-old Sarah from St Helens said it was an emotional moment and she was very happy to have had her first vaccine alongside her husband Derek, 82 "It's been a really hard year for everyone, but we feel lucky compared to others because we've had each other. We've been excited to get our jab, we're looking forward to going out for a meal at the pub again, we've really missed doing that but most of all we can't wait to get together with family again, I'm looking forward to giving my grand-daughter the biggest hug'.
'This is a really big thing for St Helens, and I feel quite emotional to be part of it."
Ken, 84, from Rainhill, had had no concerns after getting the jab. He said: "When I got the invite, I booked my appointment without a second thought. It's about protecting myself and doing my bit to help. It might take a while, but I just want things to get back to normal again"
John Norcross, 82, from Thatto Heath attended with his wife Lillian, 80. She said: "We're really lucky to have this in St Helens, I don't think we were expecting something of this scale. But everyone has been so friendly, and it was very easy finding our way here. I'm so glad John is getting his jab today, It's such a relief"
The mobilisation of the centre has been coordinated by St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust as the lead NHS provider responsible for the running and staffing of the centre. The centre is part of a region wide vaccination programme run by the Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership.
Professor Kevin Hardy, The Vaccination Centre Medical Director, said: "It's been a fantastic effort from all involved to open this centre and start mass vaccination in Merseyside and Cheshire. The vaccine is our only hope of getting things back to normal but it remains vital that everyone continues to follow the guidance until we are all protected."
The hard work and dedication shown by the staff to get the centre up and running is so impressive, and we'll be able to vaccinate thousands of patients everyday which will be key to protecting everyone.'
The vaccination centre is staffed by clinicians and a range of qualified volunteers. Hundreds of people have already stepped forward to work at the centre, including those who have returned to their profession at this time of need.
Recruitment to the centre and the wider Cheshire and Merseyside Covid-19 Vaccination programme is ongoing. If you are interested in finding out more, please visit www.recruitment.sthk.nhs.uk
More information about the national vaccination programme can be found at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination