CORONAVIRUS: This could be the beginning of the end of Covid-19 fight, says one of first vaccinated at new Boston hub

Audrey Eyre was among the many who received their Covid-19 vaccination in Boston yesterday as the largest hub outside of Birmingham in the Midlands opened its doors in the town.

Keith Cartwright of Boston

And she believes the mass vaccination programme being carried out nationwide in centres like the one at the Princess Royal Sports Arena could be the ‘beginning of the end’ of the long battle with the virus.

That optimism is shared by nurse who is the clinical and operation lead from the hub, who believes this is the first step towards a new normal.

Lynda Stockwell, who lives in Boston, says she is “absolutely thrilled and excited because this means I can contribute to the fabulous team around me and make sure that our local community can have their Covid-19 vaccinations and keep safe.

John Lewis of Algakirk receives his jab

“I am really excited that we can actually start doing the vaccinations here in Boston. For me this is the first step towards a new normal.”

Open from 8am to 7pm, the hub is set to deliver up to 1,500 jabs every day once it is fully operational and is part of a concerted mass vaccination programme being rolled out across the county.

It will be administering the vaccine to people in eligible groups within 45 miles of the site, who will be sent letters inviting them to attend - although they can still wait to get the jab more locally if they prefer.

And those who were asked to attend to get their vaccinations on Monday for the first operational day were full of praise for the way it has been set up and the staff who dealt with them.

Audrey Eyre after receiving her vaccination

Audrey Eyre, of Swineshead, said: “I’m very relieved I’ve had it. I’m 85. It wasn’t a bad experience, everybody up there was extremely kind and courteous. The whole episode was just a quick in and out really.

“It is really important. Being in our age group, you do get concerned about it, so it’s a relief to have had this now. Now I just have to wait until April for the next one.”

She said the staff and volunteers manning the hub were all very charming and helpful. “They communicated clearly and told us exactly what to expect and what not to expect. I’ve no complaints about it whatsoever. I think they did a very good job up there today.

“I think maybe this is the beginning of the end now hopefully. It’s been a very trying time hasn’t it.”

The vaccination centre

Keith Cartwright, 82, of Boston, was another to receive the vaccination on the first day.

He said of the process: “It was good. It was lovely. There were plenty of staff on, no waiting, no being messed about or anything.

He said he had received a letter on Saturday morning telling him an appointment had been made for the Monday.

Asked if he felt it was a turning point, Keith said: “Oh, yes, I’ve every confidence in it, and I’m pleased that I got it done. “

The process to change the sports and leisure hall into a clinical facility offering injections of the vaccination has taken months of planning.

Rebecca Neno, Deputy Chief Nurse of Lincolnshire NHS CCG said she was ‘honoured’ to have been involved in the process of setting up the centre, which involved NHS staff, the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum, and military partners, as well as many volunteers who have stepped forward to offer their services.

She said a core team of people had been working on the project since the autumn, even before there was any supply of vaccinations.

“The planning has been going on for many months and of course based on a lot of uncertainties, so what we have needed to develop is models that can be changed depending on which vaccine comes or which priority group we will be vaccinating,” she said.

“I have been really honoured to have been a part of this whole process, I am overwhelmed by the work that our staff within the NHS, staff within the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum and military partners have put in to really get this off the ground in a really swift but essentially safe way.”

The site, like other large vaccination sites, will initially be vaccinating people in the key priority groups, including the over 70s, residents in care home for older adults and their carers, frontline health and social care workers and the clinically vulnerable.

The first patients in those groups who live within 45 minutes of each site are currently being contacted and offered the site as a choice for their vaccination appointment.

Lincolnshire NHS has stressed though that attending the large vaccination centre is optional, and people who are over 80 who already have, or wish to wait for an appointment at their local vaccination site, will still be invited to by Lincolnshire’s NHS.

Maz Fosh, Chief Executive of the centre’s lead provider, Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, said: “We are thrilled that Lincolnshire is again increasing vaccination access in the county through what will currently be the largest centre in the Midlands outside Birmingham.

“Our team across the county’s NHS, local resilience forum, volunteers and many more continue to work hard together to ensure we are protecting the county’s priority groups with the coronavirus vaccine.”