A team of medics achieved their target of vaccinating every single care home resident and member of staff in their catchment area with the Oxford jab yesterday.
It took just over two hours for the 16-strong team of doctors and nurses administered around 350 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine for their network in the Ribble Valley, Lancashire.
The operation began with an early morning team meeting held in the Ribblesdale Covid-19 Vaccination Site within Clitheroe health centre.
Senior medics then took hold of the white cool bags assigned to them and loaded them into their cars, driving their precious cargo on icy roads to each of the ten care homes that fall within the boundaries of their primary care network.
Dr Russell Robb, the clinical director, set out in his red Golf GTI with his colleague, Dr Mike Doherty, each of them wearing a mask and with blue scrubs packed ready for use.
A team of 16 medics were able to hit targets and administer around 350 doses of Covid vaccine in the Ribblesdale Covid-19 Vaccination Site within Clitheroe health centre yesterday
Doctors set up their emergency vaccination centre in the medication room at Ribble Valley Care Home, Sawley. Pictured: Resident Marion Cooper smiles as she gets her Covid jab
Nearly five miles away they turned into the car park of Ribble Valley Care Home, Sawley, and set up their emergency vaccination centre in the medication room.
In normal times the two colleagues have particular responsibility for the home so they are used to making frequent visits to its riverside location.
Yesterday, at a time when the deadly effects of the pandemic are surging, they swiftly got to work, Dr Robb preparing the vaccines and his colleagues often joking with his elderly patients as he administered the vaccination.
Care assistant Julie Whitehead, 54, was the first to get the jab. She and a colleague had just finished the night shift but had waited specifically so they could have the vaccination.
‘Well, it didn’t hurt,’ said Julie, smiling behind her mask. ‘And it’s such a relief to know the residents are about to have it too.
‘They’ve not been able to go out for a year and their families have always had to see them from behind a screen.
‘But this means they’ll soon be able to see them close up and to hug them as normal. That’s what they need – that wonderful human contact’.
A few moments later the first of 19 residents was helped into the room and eased herself down onto a chair.
Residents at the care home smiled and appeared at ease as the medics administered their jabs, giving out almost 350 in just over two hours. Pictured: Resident Joan Fairy, 93, gets her jab
In normal times the Dr Russell Robb, the clinical director, and his colleague, Dr Mike Doherty have particular responsibility for the home so they are used to making frequent visits to its riverside location. Pictured: Resident Margaret Dawber gets her jab
‘Thank you, thank you,’ said Maureen Maynard, 75, as Hazel rolled up her sleeve and Dr Doherty momentarily distracted her as he leaned forward with the innocuous-looking needle.
‘All finished,’ he told the pensioner. ‘Well done, Maureen. Well done’.
Other residents either made their own way into the treatment room or else were wheeled in, some from their bedrooms.
Each then spent 15 minutes in the lounge so they could be watched over in case of a reaction. But none of them suffered one.
Some were fully aware of what the vaccine was for and knew the significance. For others, staff gently explained.
‘You’ll be fine, Lily,’ Hazel told one old lady. ‘It protects you from this virus that’s going around’.
Senior medics loaded the white cool bags into their cars and drove them to each of the ten care homes that fall within the boundaries of their primary care network. Pictured: Resident Marion Cooper gets her jab
Dr Robb prepared the vaccines and his colleagues joked with his elderly patients as he administered the jab. Pictured: Resident Patricia Goddard gets her jab
‘Thank you, sir,’ said Alan Krane, 77, who had kept his flat cap on and didn’t even notice when the needle entered the top of his arm.
When told he’d been vaccinated against Covid-19, he beamed up at Dr Doherty. ‘You’re a good ‘un,’ doctor. Thank you’.
The two GPs were waved away from the care home as heroes, setting off a few minutes later to help colleagues at another location.
Both were delighted with their morning’s work.
‘It’s been wonderful,’ said Dr Doherty, 53. ‘This is one of my homes, so I’ve been looking after them all through the pandemic.
‘To come here today and give them the vaccination is great because it lets them see there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
One of the first people to be given the jab during the impressive vaccination roll out was care assistant 54-year-old Julie Whitehead. Pictured: Care home resident Marion Cooper gets her jab
Senior carer Hazel (pictured) rolled up resident Maureen Maynard’s sleeve and Dr Doherty momentarily distracted her as he leaned forward with the innocuous-looking needle
‘You’ll have seen glimpses of their personalities, and to be honest you’d actually be gobsmacked about some of the lives these people have lived.
‘They may be struggling either physically or even mentally, but they’re still real people; they’re still human beings’.
Dr Robb, 38, whose primary care network covers Clitheroe, Whalley and the villages around Slaidburn, was delighted to have been able to ‘blitz’ the entire care home network in a single day.
‘In some areas there’s not been even a whiff of a vaccine, so to have got through this whole cohort of care homes in the Ribble Valley is fantastic’.
His team had set out with four boxes of ten vials each, making a total of 400 doses.
But because the vials are filled by machines, and usually contain an extra 10 per cent of the vaccine, there is a ‘magic’ 11th dose in each of them.
Dr Robb, 38 said he was delighted to have been able to ‘blitz’ the entire care home network in a single day. Pictured: Resident Lily Perrin gets her Covid-19 vaccination
Staff at Clitheroe Health Centre in Clitheroe, Lancashire, pack and prepare the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines
‘As doctors and nurses we have a huge passion to help. So to be able to come out and achieve this makes us feel really grateful and really humble, because now we know there’s going to be an element of protection for all these residents.
‘The mass vaccination sites will be fantastic, but being able to deliver this to our community through PCN locations so very quickly and efficiently is advantageous. As ever, it’s dependent on getting enough vaccine through the door’.
For his colleague, the exercise has emphasised the bond between doctor and patient.
‘In this new world the old-fashioned doctor/patient relationship has been eroded, but this is a perfect example of why as family doctors we need to maintain that trust and communication with our patients.