8 December 2020
The biggest vaccination campaign in NHS history kicked off this morning, as 80-year-old grandmother Josephine Faleye became the first person at the Royal Free Hospital to receive the COVID-19 jab.
Josephine, from Golders Green, has four children and four grandchildren and is looking forward to being able to hug them all once she receives the top up dose in three weeks.
She said: “I am excited to be the first person at this hospital to be vaccinated against COVID-19. I’m happy to have it and I hope that if people see me having it at the age of 80, it will encourage them to have it too.
“During the first wave, I didn’t see my children and grandchildren properly for about six months so it’s been a difficult year. I’m really looking forward to being able to hug my grandchildren again.”
Like many around the country, Josephine has been self-isolating for most of this year and is planning on having a very small family ‘bubble’ Christmas to keep safe.
Julie Hamilton, Royal Free London group chief nurse, said she was delighted the vaccination programme at the trust is now underway.
“It’s a huge privilege that we are now able to offer this vaccine to vulnerable patients and staff,” she said.
“I would like to thank all the staff at the Royal Free London who have helped make this happen in such a short period of time. We are all proud to be a part of this historic moment. It will take some months to complete our vaccination programme so in the meantime we must all remember to continue to be vigilant with infection prevention guidelines.”
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.
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.