GPs spearhead next phase of the fight back against Covid-19

Family doctors across Hampshire are spearheading the next phase of the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history.

A steady stream of people attended for their Covid vaccinations at Fareham Community Hospital (FCH) and other sites across the county yesterday (Dec 15).

Vaccination clinics also went live at Winchester and New Milton, with others to follow today at Southampton, Portsmouth, Bursledon, Basingstoke and Petersfield.

Nurses, paramedics, pharmacists and other NHS staff in primary care networks in every part of the county worked alongside GPs to vaccinate those aged 80 and over, identified as priority groups for the life-saving vaccine.

The NHS will contact people in the priority groups when it is their turn to receive the vaccine.

Dr Tom Bertram, a Titchfield GP who gave the first vaccinations at FCH, said: 

“As a GP I am proud to be part of this huge national effort to protect our patients against the virus.

“Alongside our colleagues in other areas of the county, we are working with local communities to deliver the vaccine in convenient and familiar settings.”

Mary Crack and Kevin Lee

Mary Crack and Kevin Lee

Titchfield residents Mary Crack and Kevin Lee (pictured) were among the first in the Fareham area to receive their injection. Mary said it was “absolutely wonderful” to begin the process after an uncertain year.

Mary said: “We’ve barely left the house this year. We’ve been out every day to walk the dog, but that’s about it. I can’t wait to see my grandchildren and give them a great big hug.”

Dr Bertram added: “This is a huge milestone in helping life get back to normal.

“Patients will be contacted and invited for vaccination. We would urge them not to contact their practice enquiring about vaccination. We will contact them.”

Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU) last week was one of the first tranche of 50 hospital hubs to administer the vaccinations. 

Since the Pfizer vaccine was approved for use earlier this month, NHS staff across Hampshire have worked around-the-clock to manage the huge scale logistical challenge of deploying the vaccine. 

The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at -70C before being thawed out and can only be moved four times within that cold chain before being used. All those vaccinated will need a booster jab 21 days later.