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The first Covid-19 vaccine to be administered on the island was to matron of St John's Residential Home Dr Sue Flemming, left, by health protection nurse Jo Rocha. Dr Flemming is pictured with director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29030636)
The first Covid-19 vaccine to be administered on the island was to matron of St John’s Residential Home Dr Sue Flemming, left, by health protection nurse Jo Rocha. Dr Flemming is pictured with director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29030636)

Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink confirmed this after the first dose of the first vaccine was administered to a frontline care worker in the island at 8am yesterday.

The vaccine needs to be administered in two doses, and the second dose for the first cohort has already been delivered to the island and is being kept in vials at the ultra-freezing temperatures it needs.

Care home staff are some of those who are being vaccinated in the first priority group, but this needs to be staggered.

‘Once having the jab you may have a sore arm or a headache or fever so we had to stagger the administration of the vaccine among care workers to ensure we maintained enough active care for those in homes,’ Dr Brink said.

‘After that, it will be the turn of the over-80s and then we will work down the priority groups.’

Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29030677)
Director of Public Health Dr Nicola Brink. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29030677)

The speed of the vaccination programme will depend on which vaccines are distributed to the island and when, but Dr Brink assured islanders that health professionals were ready and waiting for the go-ahead.

‘The Oxford vaccine is currently being considered by the MRHA [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency] and, if approved, we will move to apply to have that vaccine in the Bailiwick,’ she said.

Wednesday night was spent going through the final preparations for the first batch of doses and checking everything was in order – a mentality that has been dominant throughout the pandemic.

Dr Brink said her team were hopeful and optimistic that the whole thing would run smoothly and were back in before 7am yesterday for the big day.

Storage unit used to keep the vaccine at the appropriate temperature. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29030620)
Storage unit used to keep the vaccine at the appropriate temperature. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 29030620)

‘The vaccine being delivered to the small vaccination centre was another historic moment,’ she said.

‘Today was exciting and full of hope because we could finally start seeing the end – but we are not there yet and we must not be complacent.’

For Dr Brink, having nurses Alex Hawkins-Drew and Jo Rocha being so involved in the first vaccination was really special.

‘They have been pivotal in rolling out this programme and the fact it went so well is testament to their hard work,’ she said.

‘They, along with others, have literally been working seven days a week for months, and we are lucky to have such a great Public Health team.’

Vaccination priority groups are as follows:

1. Residents in a care home for older adults and their carers

2. Over-80s and frontline health and care workers

3. Over-75s

4. Over-70s and clinically extremely vulnerable individuals

5. Over-65s

6. 16-64-year-olds with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality

7. Over-60s

8. Over-55s

9. Over-50s

10. Rest of the population (to be determined)

Guernsey Press