'Important' milestone as GPs begin rolling out coronavirus vaccines
- Credit: Archant
Doctors' surgeries across Suffolk and north Essex have started to administer their first doses of the coronavirus vaccine - in what has been hailed as an "important moment" in the fight against the pandemic.
Patients at three surgeries in the region received their first jabs on Tuesday, a week after hubs at hospitals throughout the UK began rolling out the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.
Health chiefs have urged people to remain patient, as staff at surgeries begin contacting those most at risk of serious illness related to Covid-19.
Up to four million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are expected in the UK by the end of the month, with priority given to those aged 80 and over, care home workers and hospital staff.
Clacton man Raymond Wray, 81, became the first person in the region to be vaccinated when he received his first dose at Colchester Hospital last Tuesday, while East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust has so far administered more than 1,000 doses.
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Two Rivers Medical Centre, in Ipswich, was among the first surgeries to roll out the vaccine and administered more than 300 doses on Tuesday.
Dr Ayesha Tu Zahra, who works at the surgery, said: "This is a massive achievement on behalf of the NHS.
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"Logistically, it's a very difficult thing to do. We're grateful for the support.
"It's important that we do this as quickly and as safely as possible."
Dr Ed Garratt, chief executive of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk, NHS West Suffolk and NHS North East Essex clinical commissioning groups, added: "This is an important moment in the fight against Covid-19 and I hope a turning point in getting our lives back to normal.
"We must be realistic though and accept that there are some huge logistical challenges in delivering this vaccination programme, which is the biggest in the history of the NHS.
"However, across Suffolk and north east Essex we have an incredible team of NHS staff who will be doing their very best to vaccinate people safely, and I want to thank them for what they are doing.
"Patients will be contacted and invited for vaccination - we would urge them not to contact their practice enquiring about vaccination, we will contact them."