THE first of 975 people to receive the Covid-19 vaccination arrived at the Pirelli Stadium today for the first of two jabs that will help protect them from the virus.
The home of Burton Albion will be used for the next three days for the first round of vaccinations in East Staffordshire, with the same people receiving a second dose in January.
The first person to receive the vaccine was Dorothy Archer who will be 81 tomorrow.
She said: “This is a good birthday present, and it all helps. I have been isolating since March and I don’t want to sit in my armchair forever and this is the start of a way out.”
Dr David Atherton, the Clinical Director of Staffordshire Primary Care Network, said: “I’m very proud of what we have managed to achieve in such a short space of time. The opportunity to deliver the vaccine only came to us just over a week ago and we have been able to mobilise and we couldn’t have done that without the support of Burton Albion and Chairman Ben Robinson and the kindness and generosity the club and Burton Albion Community Trust have offered to East Staffordshire.
“A total of 18 practices across East Staffordshire have come together to help deliver this programme and it’s a result of their efforts and the hard work of the Patient Participation Groups that has enabled us to pull it all together.
“The Pfizer vaccine is a complicated one to deliver which means we will not be able to get as many out as we like. It’s 975 out of a population of 145,000 which is just a start. People will be anxious that they might not have access to the vaccine soon and we share their concerns. We are working hard to make sure our systems are efficient so we can get through the numbers.”
The first people to receive the vaccine are those aged over 80 and most at risk from the worst impact of Covid-19.
Dr Atherton said: “This is the first time a lot of these people have been out and it will be quite an emotional day here. But we can reassure them that the vaccine is safe, and we can help them get their lives back to normal. One of the opportunities we have had here is for BACT to spend some time with them as they have been active throughout the pandemic in supporting isolated people and will continue to do so.”
Matt Hancock, Head of Community at BACT, said: “It’s an absolutely unbelievable effort from so many people. The trust has seen more than a dozen staff come forward and volunteer their time over the last few days to set things up and make it happen. After all that hard work behind the scenes it’s so satisfying today to see the first people coming through and receiving the vaccine and starting us along the road of getting life back to normal.
“The NHS, the CCG and all the other partners we have worked with over the last few months have seen us working towards this. I’m really proud of Burton Albion and BACT and the genuine difference this is going to make to the lives of people across East Staffordshire.
Burton Albion Chairman Ben Robinson was on hand to see the vaccine operation in progress.
He said: “We have had the Covid-19 testing taking place and then lateral flow testing and now we have the vaccinations. The club has been ready and able to help throughout this pandemic and this is a proud moment to see what we hope is the start of getting back to normal life.”
Burton Albion striker Kane Hemmings was one of the volunteers helping support the NHS staff and brought cakes for those enjoying cups of tea after having had the vaccination.
He said: “It’s tough for everyone at the moment, and this is the start of a new beginning so it’s nice to give a bit of time and help out. The work the club does in the community is incredible and that’s credit to everyone behind the scenes who works so hard. Football for us as players is a great distraction from all that’s going on but it’s not the be all and end all as there is so much that people are having to cope with and as players we want to support the community.”