The NHS on the Isle of Wight has started to vaccinate people with the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccine, with the first Islander to receive the jab being 86-year-old Dot Cotton.
The first delivery of the second vaccine to be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) was received on Friday and vaccinations have taken place over the weekend.
Dot Cotton, who used to work in Leonard’s shoe shop in Newport and lives in Waxham House care home in Ryde, was among the first to receive the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccination.
The Pfizer/BioNTech 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 4 times within that cold chain ahead of use.
In comparison, the Oxford Astrazeneca is easier to transport and store, which will help scale up the vaccination programme on the Island. Like the Pfizer doses, the vaccination is delivered in the upper arm and people will be required to have a second dose up to 12 weeks after their first in order to achieve maximum immunity.
Dr Michele Legg, GP and clinical chair of NHS Isle of Wight Clinical Commissioning Group, was one of the healthcare workers vaccinating over the weekend. She said:
“This is the largest vaccination programme in the history of the NHS and I am so proud of how my colleagues and those who work in partner organisations have been able to come together and set up clinics and begin delivering the jabs so quickly.
“As the Oxford Astrazeneca vaccination is so much easier to store and transport, it means we are able to go into care homes and provide the vaccine to care home workers and residents in one go.
“This saves the need for them to have to come to us, which means they continue to remain safe in their homes.”
The prioritisation order of vaccinations being delivered have been set nationally by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and not a decision that is made locally. At the moment the vaccine is being administered first to those most at risk, including:
• people aged 80
• people who live or work in care homes
• health care workers
The Government has promised to vaccinate all over 70s by mid-February.
The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. Ensure you are registered with a GP in England. It’s important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then.