A Brightlingsea woman who was among the first in the town to receive the Covid-19 vaccine has urged everyone to be inoculated when they have the opportunity.
Jenny Langler, 80, was among several Brightlingsea residents who received the PfizerBioNTech vaccine last week at Colchester Hospital, one of three vaccination centres in North East Essex. People aged 80 and over, who are already attending hospital as an outpatient, and patients being discharged home after a hospital stay are among the first to receive them, with care home staff and health care workers at high risk also deemed to be a priority.
Jenny was offered an appointment by phone with a day's notice and said her visit "went like clockwork". She added: "It was absolutely amazing. How they've got it organised in such a short space of time I don't know." The hospital is vaccinating up to 250 patients a day, operating from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. Parking for those being inoculated is free.
The vaccination itself was painless and Jenny reported no side effects. Two inoculations are required and Jenny was told that the first injection will give some protection against Covid and prevent serious illness, with the second – scheduled for January – giving immunity. "I think we're very lucky to have got the vaccine so quickly and very lucky to have our NHS," said Jenny. "I think I'm very lucky to have had it and I'd encourage everyone to get it done."
According to the Essex Partnership University NHS Trust, vaccination centres which can treat large numbers of patients are being prepared in in sporting venues, conference centres and NHS sites in readiness for further deliveries of vaccine. Residents of care homes locally should also be receiving their first jab after distributors finalised stringent processes to ensure safe delivery of the vaccine.
In a statement on its Facebook page, Brightlingsea's Colne Medical Centre said: "Patients are being contacted by a central booking team to be invited to receive a vaccination. This team is independent of practices and practice teams are not able to book any Covid-19 vaccination appointments for patients. Currently, across North East Essex it has been agreed that the programme shall be delivered from three dedicated vaccination sites. When contacted by the central booking team, patients will be given further details of their nearest centre."
The practice said it was facing "unprecedented volumes of calls " and urged patients not to call about Covid-19 vaccination appointments as the central booking team will contact Patients directly.
Dr Ed Garratt, chief executive of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk, NHS West Suffolk and NHS North East Essex clinical commissioning groups, said: “This is an important moment in the fight against Covid-19 and I hope a turning point in getting our lives back to normal. We must be realistic though and accept that there are some huge logistical challenges in delivering this vaccination programme, which is the biggest in the history of the NHS."