It was a day of pride, privilege and hope, as the NHS in Hampshire took part in day one of the biggest immunisation programme in the nation’s history. Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU) was one of the very first trusts across the country to administer Covid vaccinations, and the first patient through the doors at Queen Alexandra Hospital on Tuesday morning was Michael Tibbs, aged 99.
Michael Tibbs, who served in the Royal Navy during World War Two and now lives in Lynchmere, Hampshire, said: “I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s absolutely wonderful and feel really fortunate to have the vaccination.”
Michael was accompanied by his son, Philip, and was applauded by staff after receiving his vaccination. “During lockdown I have been confined to the garden, however when things get back to normal I’m really looking forward to seeing my grandchildren and great grandchildren,” he said. “The vaccine will make a difference to everybody and we are so fortunate to have the NHS.”
PHU chief executive Mark Cubbon said: “It’s been a really busy week for the NHS but we are very proud to be delivering the vaccine. I am incredibly proud the NHS is able to do this for our country. This is absolutely a significant day and I am exceptionally proud of our patients and staff to be getting the vaccine. It’s been a tough year for so many people and it’s good we have a vaccine available to combat the virus. But we still need to do all we can to prevent the spread of the virus.”
PHU chief nurse Liz Rix, who greeted Michael and administered his vaccine, added: “We are proud and privileged to be able to vaccinate our patients. This is something we have talked about and been preparing for. It was an absolute pleasure to give Michael his vaccination. It’s an exceptional day for us but we must remember we are far from the end of this virus.
“We all need to make sure we continue to do what we are asked and keep safe. I have seen staff rise to the challenge and support each other so we can look after our patients in the way we need to, and each other. Today is the first step in a journey for the vaccination programme. Thank you to Michael for being one of the first patients to be vaccinated. To be a part of this day has been a privilege, and not just for me but for the whole team and hospital.”
PHU was one of the first tranche of 50 hospital hubs offering the vaccination this week, with more sites coming on line over the coming weeks and months as the programme ramps up. Since the Pfizer vaccine was approved for use last week, NHS staff from across Hampshire have been working around the clock to manage the huge scale logistical challenge of deploying the vaccine.
People aged 80 and over as well as care home workers will be first to receive the jab this week, along with NHS workers who are at higher risk. In recent days NHS staff have been inviting over 80s to attend Queen Alexandra Hospital in for a jab, and working with care home providers to book their staff in to a vaccination clinic. All those vaccinated will need a booster jab 21 days later. The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at -70C before being thawed out and can only be moved four times within that cold chain before being used.
GPs and other primary care staff have also been put on standby to start delivering the jab. A number of GP-led primary care networks will begin doing so next week with more practices in more parts of the country joining in on a phased basis during December.
Being the first health system in the World to deliver a vaccine is the latest in a long line of “firsts” for the NHS, which has led the world in numerous innovations including:
- 1948: The NHS was the world’s first universal health care system
- 1949: First tuberculosis vaccine was routinely offered to nurses in 1949.
- 1958: The NHS delivers first mass vaccination programme, with everyone under the age of 15 vaccinated against polio and diphtheria.
- 1962: NHS Professor Sir John Charnley completes the first full hip replacement.
- 1972: The world’s first CT scan on a patient was carried out at Atkinson Morley Hospital, in Wimbledon, now part of St George’s Hospital
- 1978: The world’s first baby is born as a result of in vitro fertilisation (IVF)
- 1987: The world’s first combined liver, heart and lung transplant is carried out at Cambridgeshire’s Papworth Hospital
- 1988: The MMR vaccine first introduced in 1988. Before this there were between 160,000 to 800,000 measles cases a year – piloted in Somerset, Fife and North Herts.
- 1999: The Meningitis C vaccine was first introduced in 1999, the UK was the first country in the world to offer the jab on a national level thanks to the NHS.
- 2010: British pensioner Kenneth Crocker, 70, was the world’s first patient to have heart surgery using a fully remote-controlled robotic arm. The operation took place at the NHS’s Glenfield Hospital, Leicestershire.
- 2016: Two NHS patients in England became some of the first in the world to benefit from pioneering hand and upper arm transplants.
- 2019: World’s first gene therapy operation for common cause of sight loss carried out by researchers in Oxford last February.
- 2020: NHS became the world’s first national health system to commit to become ‘carbon net zero’ in October this year.