Raymond, 81, first person given coronavirus vaccine in the region
- 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.
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.
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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.
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."