On the 8th December 2020, 90-year-old Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive a Pfizer Covid vaccination.
This kicked off the biggest vaccination programme in the country’s history and marked a moment of hope after months of restrictions and uncertainty.
A year on and the vaccines have been a vital tool in battling Coronavirus. Across Sussex our local NHS teams have delivered over 3 million vaccines. In West Sussex 85.5% of the eligible population have had their first vaccine and 79.2% have had their second. 73.2% of the current eligible population have also had their booster vaccine.
In light of the Omicron variant the booster programme has been expanded with the JCVI recommending that all adults over the age of 18 have a booster vaccine within three months of the second dose, rather than six.
Currently, local teams are delivering 80,000 vaccines every week and this will be ramped up to 130,000 over the coming weeks to accommodate the expansion of the booster programme. Everyone will be contacted by the NHS, whether that be through the National Booking System or through your own GP, when it is their turn to get boosted!
We are very fortunate to have the Roffey Millennium Hall and Christ Hospital vaccine centres operating. We should be hugely grateful to the local medical teams and volunteers who are making these possible and getting huge local support. They are in addition to the centres being run through the National Booking Scheme. I know some residents, particularly those without access to their own transport, have been concerned about the distance needed to travel to get to vaccine centres shown on the NBS. There is free travel available for Sussex residents who have no means to get to an appointment for a Covid vaccination. In order to book free travel you need to book an appointment or have confirmed plans to attend a walk-in session and call 01444 275008 to speak with a co-ordinator. The booking service is available between 10:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:00 Monday to Friday.
Local teams are also working hard to vaccinate those who are housebound, which presents its own operational challenges. It is taking vaccinators longer to get round to everyone, due to necessary fifteen minute observation window needed with Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but I understand all housebound will be given an appointment date by the 22nd December.
As we head into the festive period I would encourage everyone to take up an offer of a vaccine (whether that be your first, second, third, booster or flu). These steps will help to ensure everyone can enjoy the Christmas break safely with loved ones.