Leeds health workers who got first Covid vaccines in Leeds speak out as rollout begins

Bridget KellyBridget Kelly
Bridget Kelly
Leeds NHS workers with decades of service were among the first people in the city  to receive the Covid-19 vaccination.

Nurse practitioner Bridget Kelly, 73, and 80-year-old ward housekeeper Sylvia Harris have received the Pfizer Covid-19 jab today (Weds Dec 8) following its clinical approval.

Bridget Kelly, is one of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust's longest serving nurses having worked for 46 years in A&E, including 21 years on nights.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Bridget, who works as a nurse practitioner in minor injuries, said, “This means I can get on with my life.

Sylvia HarrisSylvia Harris
Sylvia Harris

"I can protect my husband, who has just had a kidney transplant, and I think everyone should have it to make us all safe.”

Sylvia Harris, a ward housekeeper was the first trust employee to be vaccinated against Covid-19.

Sylvia was aged 26 when she first joined Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Sylvia, who is currently shielding at home, said: “I miss all the people I work with. I’m so glad I’ve got it done.”

The biggest vaccine campaign in NHS history kicked off this morning when 90-year-old grandmother Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 jab at 6.31am at her local hospital in Coventry.

Dr Phil Wood, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust's chief medical officer, said: "Our incredible staff have been at the forefront of the response to the coronavirus pandemic, supporting each other, saving lives, leading vaccine research, and holding hands with patients in isolation who sadly never recovered to return to their loved ones.

“We have worked committedly, with compassion and with hope towards the day we could begin vaccinating people to help prevent further tragedy.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"We know the struggle is not yet over but reaching this momentous point is a tremendous achievement.”

Professor Nicola Stonehouse, of the University of Leeds’ School of Molecular and Cellular Biology, said: “It’s been a very impressive achievement to have a vaccine approved for use so quickly, but this doesn’t mean any corners have been cut.

“Although it will initially be given to the most vulnerable, we will need a high take up of vaccines across all ages.

“As the current approved BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine is challenging both to transport and store, other vaccines - if approval is granted - may be used too as 2021 progresses."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens praised all those involved in delivering the new vaccine programme.

He said: "“Less than a year after the first case of this new disease was diagnosed, the NHS has now delivered the first clinically approved Covid-19 vaccination – that is a remarkable achievement,” Stevens said.

“A heartfelt thank you goes to everyone who has made this a reality – the scientists and doctors who worked tirelessly, and the volunteers who selflessly took part in the trials. They have achieved in months what normally takes years.

"My colleagues across the health service are rightly proud of this historic moment as we lead in deploying the PfizerBioNTech vaccine.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I also want to thank Margaret, our first patient to receive the vaccine on the NHS.

“Today is just the first step in the largest vaccination programme this country has ever seen. It will take some months to complete the work as more vaccine supplies become available and until then we must not drop our guard. But if we all stay vigilant in the weeks and months ahead, we will be able to look back at this as a decisive turning point in the battle against the virus.”

Like many around the country, Maggie has been self-isolating for most of this year and is planning on having a very small family ‘bubble’ Christmas to keep safe.

The phased vaccination programme will see patients aged 80 and above who are already attending hospital as an outpatient, and those who are being discharged home after a hospital stay, among the first to receive the life-saving jab.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Care home providers are also being asked by the Department of Health and Social Care to begin booking staff in to vaccination clinics. GPs are also expected to be able to begin vaccinating care home residents.

Any appointments not used for these groups will be used for healthcare workers who are at highest risk of serious illness from Covid-19.

Health chiefs have set out how they will deliver the mammoth task ahead, using hospital hubs, vaccination centres and other community locations as well as GP practices and pharmacies.

The life-saving vaccine is typically delivered by a simple injection in the shoulder but there is a complex logistical challenge to deliver from the manufacturers to patients. It needs to be stored at -70C before being thawed out and can only be moved four times within that cold chain ahead of use.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.