NHS chief Sir Simon Stevens today thanked all those involved in the successful start to the NHS COVID vaccine programme, which has in less than ten weeks already seen more than nine out of ten people aged 70 and over take up the offer to be vaccinated.
Sir Simon was speaking at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust alongside May Parsons, the nurse who delivered the first vaccination in world outside of a clinical trial. She made history when she vaccinated Maggie Keenan, now 91, on December 8.
Since then the vaccination programme, the biggest and fastest in NHS history, has delivered over 12 million doses in England.
Sir Simon said that was down to a “a huge and unique team effort”, as he asked anyone from the top four priority groups who has not yet accepted the offer of a jab to contact the NHS to arrange one.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “It is thanks to fantastic staff like May that the NHS is delivering Europe’s fastest and largest COVID vaccination programme.
“The whole of the NHS has mobilised to protect the most vulnerable, supported by communities coming together with volunteers, local authorities, the armed forces and local businesses.
“After a year of huge pandemic pressure, it has been a huge and unique team effort that gives us real hope for the future.”
May, a Modern Matron, is originally from the Philippines and has worked in the NHS for the last 24 years.
May Parsons said: “It was a huge honour to be the first person in the country to deliver a COVID-19 vaccine to a patient and play my part in what was an historic day.
“The last few months have been tough for all of us working in the NHS, but it feels like there is light at the end of the tunnel as the numbers of vaccinations rapidly increase across the country.
“I am immensely proud of the way healthcare staff, our hospitals and the wider NHS are continuing to pull together, and to pull out all of the stops during these challenging times.”
The NHS vaccination programme, the largest in health service history, started in 50 hospitals on December 8.
The life-saving jab is now being delivered at more than 1,500 sites including more than 1,000 GP-led services and over 250 hospitals.
There are also more than more than 100 large vaccination centres at sites including museums, mosques, cinemas and supermarkets, along with almost 200 sites run by High Street pharmacies.
Across the country 97% of the population live within ten miles of a service.
Around 30,000 NHS staff are delivering jabs every day alongside hundreds of volunteers.
The top four priority groups – people aged 70 and over, care home residents and staff, health and care staff and clinically extremely vulnerable patients – have been offered the opportunity to be vaccinated. Any health and care staff who have not so far accepted but would now like to do so have been asked to contact their employer who is responsible for arranging their vaccination.
Others in the initial priority groups can arrange a jab through the national booking system at www.nhs.uk/COVID-vaccination or by calling 119.
The system allows people to arrange a jab at a Vaccination Centre or pharmacy service.
Appointments are staggered to allow for social distancing and people are urged not to turn up early to avoid queues.
People who do not know their NHS number can still book an appointment through the national system, but will only be given an appointment if they are in the top four priority groups.
Those who cannot get a convenient appointment that way should contact their GP practice.
The top four priority groups were set by the government following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).