NHS' chief visited healthcare staff at the Kassam Stadium today as they began vaccinating people aged 65 and over, and those who are clinically vulnerable against Covid-19.

Sir Simon Stevens, head of the NHS, arrived at the Oxford Vaccination Centre to meet a range of staff including Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Dr Nick Broughton and Covid operations director Tehmeena Ajmal.

The start of the fifth phase of the vaccine rollout comes only a day after ‘at least 200 people’ were turned away from the large-scale vaccine centre at the Kassam Stadium over the weekend because of a booking mix-up.

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A number of social care professionals, including early years teaching staff, were told there is no vaccine for them even though they were offered appointments.

More than one million people aged 65 and over have now been invited to book a vaccination, with another 1.2 million set to be invited throughout the week, and the first to book in were jabbed yesterday morning.

During the visit Sir Simon met with Professor Andrew Pollard, the director of the Oxford Vaccine Group whose team developed the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine used at the Kassam.

Oxford Mail:

Dr Broughton commented: "It was great honour to talk with Sir Simon about the success of our vaccination centre and its potential in the coming months to vaccinate up to 3,000 a day with the Oxford vaccine. 

"And it was also a pleasure to meet some of the public receiving their jabs and hear why the vaccine is so important to them and their families."

Sir Simon also witnessed Prof Pollard administer the vaccine to Penny Thewlis, the 67-year-old chief executive of Age UK Oxfordshire, which works with and supports older adults across the county

Her organisation has also played a pivotal role in supporting the NHS in recent months.
She was one of the people who received a shot today at the home of Oxford United football club.

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Ms Thewlis said: "It was wonderful to meet Sir Simon and to receive my vaccine from Professor Pollard was just the icing on the cake. 

"Receiving the vaccine was quick and painless and it means in a few short days I will have protection against Covid-19 which has destroyed so many lives in the past year.

"I would like to pay tribute to the team at Oxford Health for their dedication and care. 

"Age UK Oxfordshire was able to have several of our front line team vaccinated today who all work and deliver care to older people."

Oxford Mail:

Figures released yesterday, which showed that across the UK the NHS had vaccinated 15 million of the most vulnerable people, in line with the deadline set by the Government.

Sir Simon commented on the success: “Hitting this milestone just ten weeks after the NHS made history by delivering the first Covid-19 vaccination outside of a clinical trial is a remarkable shared achievement.

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“The NHS vaccination programme is the biggest and fastest in Europe – and in the health service’s history – and that is down to the skill, care, and downright hard work of our fantastic staff, supported by local communities, volunteers and the armed forces.

“On behalf of the whole country it’s right to mark this successful first phase with a huge thank you to everyone involved in this extraordinary team effort.”

The NHS made history in January when Brian Pinker became the first person in the world to receive the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine outside of a clinical trial.

Oxford Mail:

Since then the NHS has been working through the first four priority groups, including offering vaccination to people aged 70 and over, care homes, the extremely clinically vulnerable and health and care staff.

 In the next phase, GPs will be offering Civid-19 jabs to clinically vulnerable patients, while people aged 65 and over will in the first instance be invited to book a slot at one of the centres.

Those considered clinically vulnerable include people with chronic respiratory disease, including cystic fibrosis and severe asthma; chronic heart disease; chronic kidney disease; chronic liver disease; chronic neurological disease including epilepsy, and severe and profound learning disability ; diabetes; solid organ, bone marrow and stem cell transplant recipients.