Raymond, 81, first person given coronavirus vaccine in the region

Raymond Wray received the Covid-19 vaccine in Colchester

Raymond Wray, 81, was the first person to receive the Covid-19 vaccine at Colchester Hospital - Credit: ESNEFT

An 81-year-old man from north Essex has become the first person in the region to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

A national rollout of the vaccine began on Tuesday, with the UK becoming the first country worldwide to begin vaccinating its population against the virus.

So far, Colchester Hospital is the only hospital locally administering the vaccine, with Ipswich set to follow suit "as soon as possible" once it receives equipment set to store it.

Raymond Wray, from Clacton, was the first person to be given the vaccine at Colchester Hospital on Wednesday morning, December 9.

A man receiving the coronavirus vaccine at Colchester Hospital

Raymond receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine - Credit: ESNEFT

Speaking after receiving the jab, Mr Wray said he had "no concerns" before taking the vaccine, and has called on others not to worry.

"It is going to make such a difference," Mr Wray said.

Also among recipients was Alice Lennox from Bures, who said she was "excited and thrilled" to receive the vaccine so quickly.

Alice Lennox, who received the coronavirus vaccine

Alice Lennox from Bures also received the vaccine - Credit: ESNEFT

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Ms Lennox, who turns 82 on Sunday, said: “It is a terrific achievement.

“The dedication of all the people who have worked so hard – the NHS and the people who have been developing it – is just incredible.

“I’m so excited to be one of the first and I was absolutely thrilled when they phoned and offered it to me. I didn’t expect it for a while.

"I hope it will encourage others to have it too. I barely felt it, it was over before I realised it had started.”

Husband and wife John and Margaret Barrett, from Rowhedge said they hope receiving the vaccine means they will be able to see their children and grandchildren again.

John and Margaret Barrett from Rowhedge

John and Margaret Barrett, from Rowhedge, said it was an "absolute privilege" to receive the vaccine - Credit: ESNEFT

The couple said it was "an absolute privilege" which they hope signals the "beginning of the end" for the pandemic.

Nick Hulme - chief executive of East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), which runs Ipswich and Colchester hospitals - said despite the good news, people must remember to follow government guidelines.

“This really is an incredible day for the NHS and for our hospitals," Mr Hulme said. 

"I am so proud of all our teams who have worked together to make this happen.

“We must remember that this is just the beginning though. Today we are asking our communities to be patient.

"We know it will take many weeks to get the vaccine to everyone who is in a vulnerable group."