Lots of the newly approved coronavirus vaccine from Oxford University and AstraZeneca have already arrived in hospitals before the jab was launched.
As of Monday, around 530,000 doses of the vaccine will be available for launch across the UK, with vulnerable groups already identified as a priority for immunization.
One of the first hospitals to pick up a batch on Saturday morning was the Princess Royal Hospital on Haywards Heath, part of the NHS Trust of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals.
Dr. George Findlay, the trust’s chief medical officer and assistant manager, said the vaccination program gives NHS staff “more confidence” in the work.
Since it can be kept at normal refrigerator temperature, this vaccine is “much easier” to administer than the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, which requires refrigeration at around minus 70 ° C.
The rollout of the Pfizer / BioNTech jab began almost a month ago. More than a million people have already received their first coronavirus jab.
Second doses of both vaccines will now be delivered within 12 weeks instead of the 21 days originally planned with the Pfizer / BioNTech burst after guidelines were changed to speed up immunization.
According to Dr. Findlay is projected to vaccinate hundreds of people per day at the Princess Royal Hospital site, with efficiencies expected to increase after the first few days of the program.
“We have set up a delivery hub on the premises of this hospital so that we have the infrastructure there to invite people to booked appointments,” he said.
“And we will make sure that the booked appointments are full every day from Monday.”
Among those slated to be vaccinated with the Oxford / AstraZeneca shock starting next week are at-risk NHS workers and at-risk social workers.
“We started the vaccination at our other hospital location a few weeks ago. This was seen as a really positive step that will give staff more confidence to come to work,” said Dr. Findlay.
“You just have to look at the statistics for the last 10 months, showing how many employees are sick or have unfortunately lost their lives.
“This gives employees the confidence to come to work to take care of the patients.”
Dr. Findlay said the hospital has been under “quite a bit of pressure” since early December as the number of cases has increased due to a new variant of the virus.
“And that has increased in the last few weeks as cases increase in the community and then hospital stays increase and critical care needs increase,” he said.
“The staff get on amazingly well, they work incredibly hard, and we’re increasing the capacity to deal with the sickest patients.
“While it is really difficult and the staff are under pressure, the hospitals are doing fine and we are still taking care of those who need it.”
He said the hospital had cut down on planned care and some routine surgeries had been postponed so staff could focus on the Covid-19 response.
Dr. Findlay said he was concerned about the physical and mental wellbeing of workers and called it an “incredibly difficult year”.
“We went through the first wave, which was unknown and exerted enormous pressure,” he said.
“We then tried to focus on recovery to take care of the patients who were moved and people worked really hard on it.
“And then we’re right in the next wave, so nobody really had a break for most of the year. So we are very worried about tiredness, stress and tension and do everything we can to support our employees. But it’s just always a worry. “