The COVID-19 vaccination programme started in Rotherham today as 94-year old Tom Drury-Smith, from Todwick, became the first Rotherham resident to receive the ground-breaking vaccine at his local GP-led vaccination service. This comes as the roll out of the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history gains further momentum.
This week (Tuesday), Tom received his first dose of the life-saving COVID-19 vaccine thanks to the huge effort across the NHS to protect people from the virus.
The NHS and its partners across Rotherham have been working hard to develop safe and effective ways to deliver a small amount of vaccines that will be available this week. Groups of GP practices, known as Primary Care Networks (PCNs), are setting up local vaccination services across Rotherham to start vaccinating those aged 80 and over, as well as other residents identified in high-priority groups, on a phased basis during December and in the coming months.
The NHS in Rotherham will contact people in the high-priority groups when it is their turn to receive the vaccine.
Shortly after being the first Rotherham resident to receive the vaccine, Tom Drury-Smith, commented: “I’m very grateful to be having this vaccine and I would advise others to take up the opportunity to have the vaccine because without a doubt I think it is something that will save people’s lives.
“I’m fortunate to have had excellent care from the NHS and local doctors over the years. 90 years ago there was a bad epidemic of diphtheria and with the isolation hospital being full I was treated by the doctor at home. The vaccine saved my life and that of others at that time. That’s why I think it’s really important when vaccines for viruses like COVID-19 are available that people take them up. I’m certain it will save their lives as vaccines have mine over the years.”
Ian Atkinson, Executive Place Director at NHS Rotherham CCG, said: “We are working with our GP-led PCNs, using our experience from previous vaccination programmes, to develop safe and effective ways to deliver the biggest vaccination programme ever across Rotherham.
“There are a number of logistical challenges but the NHS in Rotherham, working with our partners, has an excellent track record of delivering mass vaccination programmes, and we want to use this experience to help protect people from Covid-19.
“We won’t be vaccinating everyone all at once - it will be a relatively small number at first - but as supply becomes available on a phased basis, we will be vaccinating people at selected sites, including care homes, over the coming months, starting with our most vulnerable residents.”
Dr Tim Douglas, Local GP and Clinical Director for Rother Valley South Primary Care Network, said: “It is fantastic news that we are able to start this vaccination programme here in Rotherham. As a local GP I am extremely proud to be part of this huge effort to protect our patients against the virus and I would urge people to come forward when they are called up for the vaccine.
"It was great to welcome Tom as our first patient this morning and I look forward to seeing many more of our patients over the coming weeks and months as we roll out the vaccine programme in a phased approach.
“GP practice colleagues across Rotherham are about to embark on an enormous challenge, delivering the COVID-19 vaccine to the most vulnerable patients in our communities whilst also delivering the usual care and services our patients rely on us for.
“Patients will be contacted and invited for their vaccination when it is their turn. In the meantime, we are asking that residents to not contact NHS services regarding COVID vaccine availability as this could delay ill patients from getting the help they need.”