Sleaford care home staff among the first to get new Covid-19 vaccine in the county

Staff at two Sleaford care homes are among the first facilities in the county to benefit from the new Pfizer vaccine roll out in the UK.

84-year-old retired NHS worker Janet Judson from Lincoln was the first person in Lincolnshire to get the new COVID-19 vaccine. EMN-200912-183841001

United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trustr is one of the first 50 hubs across England to begin the mass vaccination programme after it was approved by regulators last week.

The UK is the first country to offer the Pfizer jab.

Health and care workers and the most clinically vulnerable and elderly are to be among the first in line to get the jabs as the UK steadily rolls out the vaccine over the coming weeks and months.

Ashdene care home in Sleaford looks after some of the most vulnerable older residents in the area, particularly catering for those with dementia.

Manager Jilly Hunt said: “We are getting our first lot of staff vaccinated on Monday at the recreation centre at Lincoln County Hospital.

“I got a telephone call from the senior contracting manager at Lincolnshire County Council to offer me 12 slots for staff and it took me five minutes to fill them - it is very exciting.”

She commented: “There is definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. We are just desperate to get back to normal.”

She explained that she had already discussed the vaccine with staff to sound out who was willing to take it, so it was a matter of sharing out the slots among day and night shift workers and ancillary staff to counter against anyone feeling off-colour as a result.

The staff will join some from Oakdene care home in the town in being among the first care home staff in the county to get the jabs.

“it will be coming in-house for the residents but it is being done very carefully. You speak to a doctor, then have the vaccine and wait 15 minutes to see if it is OK. Lincolnshire County Council has got it organised amazingly well, whereas some other areas are not organised yet.”

She added: “It is totally down to the individual whether or not they decide to have the vaccine and I support them either way.

“Having spoken to my residents that are able to give consent they all want to grab it with both hands. For our other residents that aren’t able to consent, I have spoken to their relatives or a best interest decision has been made involving the GP and social workers and the team here and we have decided it’s in their best interest to be vaccinated.”

The home is also taking part in an urgent public health study called Vivaldi where all the staff and residents will have their bloods taken so that they can see if anyone has got immunity already or has had the virus and not known (before testing came in).

“They will continue to test us over the following year to see how immunity holds,” said Mrs Hunt. “I feel it’s very important to volunteer for projects like this as it helps all the general public and after all we’ve all got to do our bit to help.”

Sleaford and North Hykeham MP, Dr Caroline Johnson, herself an NHS paediatric consultant, said she was delighted that a vaccine had been approved for use in the UK.

She said: “The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been approved by the MHRA following rigorous clinical trials who have concluded that it meets the highest standards for safety, quality and effectiveness. It has been shown to be 95 percent effective and works in all age groups, with the first 800,000 doses now available.

“The over-80s, as well as care home workers, will be the first to receive the jab alongside NHS workers who are at higher risk. The vaccination programme has begun locally and 84 year old retired NHS worker Janet Judson was the first person in Lincolnshire to receive the jab on Tuesday. It is likely that by the end of April most people at the highest risk from coronavirus will be vaccinated.

“This vaccine is an unprecedented and phenomenal achievement. It represents a huge step forward on the path back to normality and I pay tribute to all of the amazing scientists and all those in the Department for Health and Social Care who have worked so hard to make this possible.

“I know that this has been an incredibly challenging year for everybody, but now we have some light at the end of the tunnel and can look forward to a nationwide vaccination campaign which will pave the way for a wider reopening of the economy.”