SALFORD Royal hospital, part of the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group (NCA), has today started to roll out the COVID-19 vaccine to Greater Manchester patients, local care home staff, and NHS frontline staff today, in a first positive step towards normality for the region’s communities.
The hospital is one of the first 50 designated hospital vaccine hubs across the country to lead the biggest and most complex immunisation programme in the NHS’s history.
Dedicated nurse link workers will be administering the vaccine to Salford Royal patients aged 80 and over, as well as those at high risk and the vulnerable, along with local care home staff and some frontline workers from across the NCA.
The life-saving vaccine is typically delivered by a simple injection in the shoulder. All those vaccinated will need a booster jab 21 days later.
Salford Royal patients aged 80 and above who are already attending hospital as an outpatient, and those who are being discharged home after a hospital stay, will be among the first to receive the life-saving jab.
The hospital will also begin inviting people over the age of 80 into hospital for a jab, and work with care home providers to book their staff in to vaccination clinics.
The NCA employs 20,000 staff, bringing together the Salford Royal and Pennine Acute NHS Trusts and runs hospitals and community healthcare services in Salford, Oldham, Bury and Rochdale.
NCA Chief Executive Raj Jain said:
“The COVID-19 vaccination programme is the single biggest immunisation programme in the history of the NHS and we are absolutely privileged and excited that our Salford Royal site and group is one of the first in the country to receive the vaccine and be at the forefront of its delivery in Greater Manchester.
“As the programme rolls out, as a hospital vaccine hub we will be providing the vaccine to our patients, including those first who are most vulnerable and at highest risk, our staff, healthcare staff groups from other settings and the wider population of Greater Manchester.
“Today is a momentous milestone in our COVID-19 recovery and an important positive step on our journey to return to normal. We have safely received and stored the vaccine and are ready to go. I would like to thank our teams, including our estates and facilities, pharmacy, supply, HR and occupational health, who have worked so hard to prepare for this. The vaccination programme will help us see a reduction of cases across our communities and keep people safe from COVID-19.”
Dedicated volunteer Ted Jones has become the first person at Salford Royal to receive the Covid-19 vaccination.
Ted, who has been volunteering at the hospital for almost 11 years, has been shielding at his home in Swinton, Salford, since the start of the pandemic.
Ted, 86, said:
“It is a momentous occasion, I feel like a celebrity today. I do feel a bit nervous but I am pleased that we have the vaccination here now.
“I am just looking forward to being able to get back to normal and come back to work with the rest of the volunteers who I am really missing.
“I really miss volunteering at this place – volunteering is my life, I love it here.”
Dr Chris Booth, Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine and Anaesthesia at Salford Royal, said that when it is his turn to be offered the COVID-19 vaccine he will not hesitate to take up this opportunity.
“The COVID-19 vaccine will help us to get the virus under control; this is a real light at the end of the tunnel. I am looking forward to seeing a reduction in the number of people I treat on our unit who are seriously ill with COVID-19.
“On a personal level, staff members will feel safer in their roles and a little less worried about the risks they pose to their own loved ones in terms of passing on the virus. Throughout the pandemic, Critical Care staff have had the unfortunate position of treating critically ill colleagues and the COVID-19 vaccine should help to bring this sad situation to an end.”
There is a complex and difficult logistical challenge to deliver the vaccine from the manufacturers Pfizer to patients as the vaccine needs to be stored at -70C before being thawed out and can only be moved four times within that cold chain before being used.
Across Greater Manchester, GPs and other primary care staff are also being put on standby to start delivering the jab. A small number of GP-led primary care networks will begin doing so during the following week (week beginning 14 December) with more practices in more areas joining in on a phased basis during December and in the coming months.
To aid the success of the vaccination programme the NHS is asking everyone to continue to follow the necessary restrictions in their area, maintain social distancing, wash hands frequently and wear face masks, so we can further suppress the virus and allow our NHS to provide services without being overwhelmed. By protecting the NHS we can save more lives and treat more people.
Across the country vaccination centres treating large numbers of patients in sporting venues and conference centres will subsequently stand up when further supplies of vaccine come on stream.