Health leaders thank communities and health and care teams across Hampshire and Isle of Wight on COVID-19 vaccination programme anniversary

Health leaders across Hampshire and Isle of Wight today shared a heartfelt thank you as the nation marked the first anniversary of the biggest vaccination programme in the history of the NHS.

More than 3.26m million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been delivered across our communities since the launch of the lifesaving programme on 8 December 2020.

Vaccines have been delivered across GP-led vaccination services, hospital hubs, mass vaccination centres and pharmacy-led services. From festivals to fire stations, circuses to cruise ships and from boxing clubs to places of worship – countless walk-ins, pop-ups and outreach clinics have been held to support as many eligible people as possible to be vaccinated. 

Maggie MacIsaac, Chief Executive Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care System (ICS), said: “I cannot thank everybody involved in supporting delivery of the COVID-19 vaccination programme across Hampshire and Isle of Wight enough. Your incredible continued efforts are helping to save lives.

“Thank you also to communities across the area for your continued support and understanding while we work at pace to respond to the new COVID-19 variant. We couldn’t do this without the dedication of colleagues, partners and volunteers who continue to do all they can to ensure everyone eligible is offered the opportunity to be fully vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Jane Ansell, Senior Responsible Officer for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, said: “Teams across Hampshire and Isle of Wight continue to do all they can to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and we will be offering greater access to the vaccine in the coming days and weeks. This could not be achieved without the incredible support of our partners and volunteers. Thank you for all you continue to do to help protect those who are most vulnerable in our communities."

Liz Rix, Chief Nurse at Portsmouth Hospitals University  NHS Trust (PHU), greets veteran Michael Tibbs at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, on 8 December 2020. Credit: PHU

World War II veteran Michael Tibbs made history last December when he was among the first in the UK to receive the COVID-19 vaccine - on day one of the national roll-out.

Mr Tibbs was vaccinated by Chief Nurse Liz Rix at Queen Alexandra Hospital (QA) in Portsmouth exactly one year ago today.

The centenarian, who served as a Submarine Lieutenant in the Second World War, was applauded after receiving the jab at QA just after his 99th birthday. Mr Tibbs has since had his second dose and booster vaccinations and recently celebrated his 100th birthday

Speaking on the first anniversary of the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, Mr Tibbs encouraged others to take up the offer. He said: “It’s been a difficult and challenging year for everyone and I feel very privileged to have been the first vaccinated at Queen Alexandra Hospital by their Chief Nurse, Liz Rix. Since then, I’ve had my second dose and had my booster and would urge everyone to do the same.”

Liz Rix, Chief Nurse at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU), said: “Looking back over the past year the NHS has achieved so much and I am extremely proud of how everyone at PHU has pulled together.

As I think back and think about all of the collaboration and planning with teams that lead us to the day when we welcomed our first patient, Mr Tibbs, into the hub, we feel very privileged that here at PHU we were able to be part of this key moment in protecting our community from COVID-19.”

Penny Emerit, Chief Executive at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust (PHU), said: “It has been a challenging period for the NHS but I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to do for our community.  A year ago we launched our hospital hub at Queen Alexandra Hospital, and many thousands of our population have taken up the offer of vaccination to protect themselves and others. I couldn’t be more proud of how many colleagues have stepped up in order to protect our patients and community, but we need to ensure we continue to do what we are asked to keep ourselves, our families and our patients safe.”

A number of pop-up booster jab clinics will be held in the coming weeks as the vaccination programme is rapidly scaled up across Hampshire and Isle of Wight.

Health and care partners are closely monitoring vaccine uptake and these walk-in sessions will be held in the areas of greatest need, based on evidence.

Dr Matt Nisbet, GP Partner and Clinical Lead for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight COVID-19 Vaccination Programme, said: “The latest national guidance advises reducing the interval between a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and a booster dose to three months. People aged 40 and over and those in a high-risk group are now being invited in accordance with this. In-line with national guidance, eligible people will continue to be invited in order of vulnerability.

“The offer of a COVID-19 jab is not time-limited so anyone invited can have the vaccine – even if they have previously declined and changed their mind.”

David Noyes, Chief Operating Officer at Solent NHS Trust, said: “It has been an extraordinary period for all of us; our people and our communities have reacted and responded brilliantly in the face of genuinely unprecedented challenges.

“It has been a huge privilege to lead the mass vaccination centre programme across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, and I want to play tribute to our incredible workforce, legion of volunteers and our partner agencies who have come together to play a major role in the fightback against the virus.”