The first patients and staff have been vaccinated at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton this morning.
Bidge Garton, pictured above, was one of the first to receive the vaccine.
Bidge has been a volunteer at the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust for more than 35 years, and has helped victims of the Brighton Grand bombing and people needing treatment after the Fatboy Slim beach concert.
She now helps in the A&E department, giving counselling and advice to the recently bereaved.
The Royal Sussex is the first hospital in the county to get the Pfizer covid vaccine, which will be delivered to other acute hospitals in the coming weeks, to act as hubs.
The Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust is also due to open at the Brighton Centre shortly for mass community vaccinations.
However, the trust says that the logistics are complex and that delivering it will be “a marathon and not a sprint”.
The first people to get the jab will be patients aged 80 and above who are already attending hospital as an outpatient, and those who are being discharged home after a hospital stay.
Care homes will be invited to bring residents in for appointments, where possible.
Some staff who fall into the high risk groups will also be vaccinated. One of them, A&E consultant Dr Rob Galloway, tweeted this morning to say he had got the jab, adding “It’s safe, painless, protects you and your loved ones.”
Things that have happened today
1) got COVID vaccine
Things that haven’t and won’t happen
1) grown a second head
2) developed autism
3) been injected with “tracking molecules”
It’s safe, painless, protects you and your loved ones
— Rob Galloway (@DrRobgalloway) December 8, 2020
In a message shared via Healthwatch Brighton, the trust said: “Delivering the Pfizer vaccine is complex as it needs to be stored at -70C before being thawed out and can only be moved four times within that cold chain before being used.
“This makes it very difficult to deliver in care homes at present. While safe and effective ways to overcome these challenges are being developed, care home staff will be invited to receive the vaccine from the hospital hubs and other sites as they come online.
“The arrival of a safe, effective vaccine is a remarkable scientific breakthrough but we know that delivering it will be a marathon and not a sprint.”
The trust is also working with care home employers to identify staff who can attend an appointment at a local hospital hub. As slots for health and care staff become available, eligible people will be contacted by their employer.
In addition to hospital hubs at other acute sites across Sussex and the Brighton Centre, the trust expects 11 GP-led local vaccination services to start to come online over the coming weeks, with more to follow in a phased manner.