Tuesday 8 December 2020 was a momentous day for Oxfordshire and an historic day for the NHS as we started the COVID-19 vaccination programme here. We are part of the biggest and most highly anticipated immunisation campaign in history as the Churchill Hospital was designated one of 50 hospital hubs to deliver the vaccine. Last week, the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and less than a week later, thanks to the incredible work of NHS staff, this week we are vaccinating our most vulnerable local residents in Oxfordshire, West Berkshire and Buckinghamshire. The first people to be vaccinated included people over 80 years old, care workers and frontline NHS workers from Oxfordshire and West Berkshire.
Dr Bruno Holthof, Chief Executive Officer of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (OUH), said:
“I would like to thank all of our staff who have done such a tremendous job to get our hospital hub set up at such pace. This has been a great achievement of team working by our estates, digital, pharmacy and clinical staff, with the support of many more.
“This is a hugely significant moment in our pandemic response, and offers hope at the end of what has been an incredibly difficult year for us all. The strict approval process it has gone through means that the approved vaccine, and any other vaccines approved in the future, will not only be safe, but will also be our best defence against the virus.
David Walliker, Chief Digital and Partnership Officer, said:
“For the past few weeks we have been working closely with colleagues across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and West Berkshire to plan how we will offer vaccinations to the local population and our staff as soon as we are able to.”
There will now be a process to roll out vaccinations first for those people who are either most at risk or need it because of the work they do.
“This includes those people over the age of 80 and people living and working in care homes. The prioritisation has been set nationally by the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Sam Foster, Chief Nursing Officer at OUH, said:
“I have been proud to play my part in delivering the first vaccinations on this historic day in our battle against the pandemic.
“We are welcoming in patients who have been identified as the highest priority and have been contacted as a result.
“Please don’t contact your GP or other health professionals asking for the vaccine just yet. We know people are keen to have it, but we have limited supplies currently and will be contacting those who need it most first. Please do act on your invite and make sure you attend your appointment when arranged.
“We can all still help to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe by continuing to social distance, wear a mask and follow the hand hygiene guidance – this will save lives.”