'Dunkirk spirit' - How Norwich hospital rolled out Covid vaccine
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2020
It was a landmark that has been hailed as a moment of "hope" and the start of a fight to protect the people of Norfolk from coronavirus, as the region's largest hospital's began its coronavirus vaccination rollout.
Those there on the historic day at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital on Wednesday said they were amazed and shell-shocked to be having some of the first vaccines in Norfolk and urged others to take up appointments when they are asked.
The hospital's first patient was 86-year-old Kenneth Ireland, from Wymondham, who received a round of applause after rolling up his sleeve for the Pfizer jab.
Mr Ireland has a blood disorder and was keen to receive the vaccination as soon as possible.
Mr Ireland, who will receive his second vaccine jab on January 5, said: “I hope it will stop me getting virus. It’s early days and we will see after the second one what happens.
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“I think if you are offered it you would be silly not to have it. There have been lots of tests. I have full faith.
"That couldn’t have gone any smoother. The set-up is brilliant as are all the people included in it.”
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More than 1,000 people aged over 80 have been booked to receive the coronavirus vaccine in Norfolk and Waveney.
Also vaccinated were Tony and Carole Smith, of Mile End Road, Norwich.
Mrs Smith, 82, said: "It is absolutely amazing. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that would happen.
Mr Smith, 86, added: "I did not feel anything. Just go for it with absolutely no hesitation."
Evelyn Evans, of Bluebell Road, Norwich, said she was shell-shocked to receive a message and hoped in 2021 she could get back to singing in the two choirs she is a member of.
The great-grandmother-of-three said: "I'm absolutely amazed.
"This is the start of the end [of coronavirus]. Bless these lasses they have been working their socks off. It's a lovely atmosphere. Nobody is grumbling, the feeling seems to be very lovely and supportive."
Nancy Fontaine, chief nurse and head of infection control at the NNUH, said there was a real "Dunkirk spirit" and the hospital began its vaccination on Tuesday "to make sure they got it right".
Prof Fontaine said: "I have to say the people of Norfolk have been phenomenal coming forward booked in early we have less than one per cent of people not attending. that is not reflected across the country.
"Everybody has a real sense of Dunkirk spirit coming together to make sure they are role modelling.
"One of the comments from our early over 80s patients who said it was easier than booking an online shop. I think that's great because if it is easier than that it means it is accessible and the fact we are not losing slots and were not wasting our vaccine doses and they are coming here."
"The staff have really been energetic and dynamic and the patients have been superb. I just want to say thank-you as this is how we keep each other safe."
She said the limiting factor moving forward was getting dosages of the vaccine, but a second order was already in place.
Professor Fontaine said: "It's part of our fight to get out of this wave and to improve the R number and our statistics in Norfolk, I think that will keep everybody going and keep the whole of the community connected."
In the vaccine centre, there are more than 50 vaccinators, seeing patients 12 hours a day at the hospital's Aylsham Suite.
Once patients have been checked in, prescribed the vaccine, and vaccinated they will visit the final checkpoint to book their second jab.
Leading the centre is Hilary Winch, who has been a nurse for 32 years, 20 of them at the Norfolk and Norwich, usually heads staff and health and wellbeing.
She said: "It's quite emotional. It is a real privilege.
"For me its about the having a bit of hope. It's the light at the end of the tunnel. It has been a long eight months for a lot of staff. If we can protect patients, our communities, we can stop people coming through our front door. We want them to be well."