'Hope of a better future' - Over-80s on getting the Covid vaccine in Suffolk
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
Hundreds of vulnerable people have been queuing up to get their Covid-19 vaccine today as six new sites opened across Suffolk - with hope this will take us to a "different, but better future".
Six of the 14 new coronavirus vaccine sites, run by primary care networks (PCNs), have opened their doors in East Bergholt, Debenham, Woodbridge, Sudbury, Long Melford and Mildenhall today.
The rest of the PCN sites, which include one at Trinity Park in Ipswich, are due to welcome their first patients over the next two days. While "mass" vaccine centres, such as the one at Gainsborough which will be run by hundreds of volunteers, is on track to open later this month.
John Stedman, an 82-year-old from Lavenham, said he had no worries about getting the vaccine when he arrived at Constable Country Medical Practice in East Bergholt.
He had an appointment for 10.30am and afterwards said he "didn't feel a thing".
"It was perfectly okay and I feel very happy that this is a step in the right direction," he said.
Meanwhile, Audrey Web and her husband Howard Web, from Groton near Sudbury, found out about their appointments a couple of days ago.
Mrs Web said: "The vaccine was fine, in fact I'm still waiting for him to do it.
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"I wasn't worried beforehand, as I've been in and out of the doctors, had babies, had jabs and so on, and I don't have any major underlying health conditions.
"It's been great here".
The pair will return in a few weeks to get their second dose.
The vaccine delivery at Constable Country is primarily being run by GP staff; however, a number of volunteers were on site helping with traffic, parking and directing people outside the surgery.
Pete Keeble, the practice manager, said 346 people received their first dose of the vaccine on the first day of the rollout.
He said the majority of those were the over-80s cohort, but also some frontline workers.
The practice will do at least this number on Friday and Saturday, and is expecting a delivery of 2,000 doses of the vaccine next week, with appointments being planned for Tuesday through to Sunday.
Mr Keeble said they will aim to vaccinate a minimum of 350 people per day.
Angie Armitage, a volunteer who is helping two days a week at the East Bergholt surgery, said she wanted to do something useful while she is furloughed.
She said: "I wanted to do something to help as I was just sitting around at home, so I thought I would get involved.
"It all seems to be going to plan so far here, but it's a shame about the weather."
Dennis Richards, from Bildeston, was accompanied by his daughter Linda Jacobs at Constable Country Medical Practice, and got his vaccine at 10.40am.
He said: "I feel about as fit as a fiddle, but with broken strings. But I feel fine about getting the vaccine, as I had my usual flu one and had no reactions, I don't normally have any reactions."
John Woodley, from Lavenham, had his vaccine done at East Bergholt as his nearest surgery in Hadleigh was fully booked.
He said he felt fine about getting the vaccine and thought the process at the GP practice was "terrific".
"It's the only solution we have got at the moment, so it needs to be done," he said.
Debbie Wildridge, from Drinkstone, accompanied her mum Ursula Owen, who is celebrating her 97th birthday next week.
She said: "I feel thrilled to be here with mum. I've been working hard to keep her safe all this time so I'm really delighted.
"Mum said she feels really privileged to be here and to be one of the first in the queue."
Many of the patients at Constable Country Medical Practice said they couldn't even feel the injection, and complimented the staff for the organised and fast process on the first day of the rollout.
Bernard Bailey, aged 80, came from Brantham to get his vaccination.
He said: "It is the best for everyone in the world really.
"Hopefully we can look forward to a better future - different, but better."
The other five sites rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine today are Woodbridge Community Hall, Debenham Leisure Centre, Hardwicke House Practice in Sudbury, Long Melford Practice and the Jubilee Centre in Mildenhall.
Surgeries will be contacting those eligible for the vaccine and people should not phone the practices directly.