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Staff Covid-19 vaccination programmes are getting underway across the NHS, as trusts aim to have all frontline health workers protected with a first dose by the middle of next month.
Prime minister Boris Johnson announced last night that the NHS had committed to a target of offering a jab to everyone in the top four priority groups by 15 February.
“I’m very proud to be involved with such an important project”
The initial focus since the first vaccine – developed by Pfizer-BioNTech – was authorised in December has been care home residents and staff, and people aged 80 and over due to the links between old age and increased risk.
The approval of a second vaccine – from the Oxford/AstraZeneca – as well as changes to the dose schedule mean enough supplies are now available to expand to the other high priority groups.
These include patient-facing health and other social care workers, people aged between 70 and 80, and those considered clinically extremely vulnerable.
Among those launching staff vaccination programmes this week was Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust.
One of the first members of staff to receive a jab at the trust was Sheena Brown (pictured top), a staff nurse and former ward sister who has worked in the NHS for 48 years.
Ms Brown, who is also a vaccinator, said it felt “great” to receive the Covid-19 vaccine and she encouraged others to take up the offer.
“The country is going through such a difficult time and this will help save lives and stop the NHS getting overwhelmed,” she said.
Julie Stone, one of the nurses leading the vaccination programme at Royal United Hospitals Bath, said staff had been “very keen” to get a jab.
“This is a really important milestone in helping to stop the spread of coronavirus”
“I’m very proud to be involved with such an important project,” she said. “The whole team has been amazing.”
Meanwhile, West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has converted a floor of an office block at one of its hospitals into a staff vaccination hub and started vaccinating health workers on Monday.
Trust chief executive Dr Stephen Dunn said: “This is a really important milestone in helping to stop the spread of coronavirus and in keeping our workforce healthy as we deal with increasing cases of Covid-19 here at the hospital.
“Roll out of the vaccine will help guard staff against the virus, meaning we can build up our resistance to it and in turn help protect family, friends and patients we are caring for.”
He said the staff vaccination programme would take a number of weeks to complete but that it had got off to a “really positive start”.
Trusts are prioritising staff most at risk of catching the virus because of where they work, those who are most likely to pass it on to vulnerable people, and staff at risk of becoming seriously ill themselves if they contract Covid-19.
Previously, NHS staff were only being offered a jab if a vaccine was going to be unused for patients.