People throughout the Harborough district will start getting the coronavirus vaccine in the coming days and weeks
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The Harborough MP said it was “fantastic” as the NHS launches the biggest, most ambitious vaccination campaign in its 72-year history.
Elderly residents in care homes and their carers, people aged 80 and over and frontline health and social care workers will be among the first priority groups to be given the life-saving jab.
MP Neil told the Harborough Mail: “This is fantastic, historic news that people throughout our district will start getting the coronavirus vaccine in the coming days.
“Starting with those who are most at risk, GPs will be getting in touch to offer people the vaccine and explain where they should go to get it.
“Getting the vaccine out to tens of millions of people is going to be one of the biggest organisational challenges since the Second World War.
“This first vaccine is very high-tech and needs to be stored at minus 80 degrees which makes matters more difficult.
“Other vaccines that are nearing approval are a bit simpler to manage and will help us speed up the process next year.
“The good news is that the UK government has successfully bought up more vaccine shots than any other so we are in a stronger position to move quickly.”
But he warned that it will be well into next year before enough people are vaccinated against the virulent coronavirus to start to get back to normal.
“It is still going to be months until we get to large enough numbers of people vaccinated to be able to get fully back to normal.
“So we will have to keep pulling together to do the things which will keep the virus under control throughout the winter and spring.
“It would be tragic to have people dying unnecessarily of the virus when the end is in sight and people are getting vaccinated,” insisted Neil.
“But after a tough year the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter.
“This is an historic moment and a huge breakthrough - and means that next year things can gradually start getting back to normal.”
East Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said people in Harborough will start to be vaccinated “very soon”.
“In line with the rest of the country we anticipate being in a position to start our local vaccination programme very soon.
“We have been carrying out extensive planning in readiness to begin vaccinating once we are given the go ahead.
“This will include a large vaccination centre, complemented by local vaccination services delivered by GP practices.
“While we await the go-ahead we can assure people we will be vaccinating in line with the priority groups as set out for us by the Government,” said a CCG spokeswoman.
“The immediate priority groups are residents in a care home for older adults and their carers, all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers.
“Full information will be provided as quickly as possible and those eligible for the vaccine will be contacted directly and invited to attend an appointment when they become eligible.”
She spoke as 90-year-old grandmother Margaret Keenan became the first person in the world to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 jab on Tuesday (December 8) following its clinical approval.
At 6.31am early riser Margaret, known to her many friends and family as Maggie, was given the trailblazing jab by nurse May Parsons at her local hospital in Coventry.
Maggie, who turns 91 next week, said: “I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19.
“It’s the best early birthday present I could wish for because it means I can finally look forward to spending time with my family and friends in the New Year after being on my own for most of the year.
“I can’t thank May and the NHS staff enough who have looked after me tremendously.
“And my advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it – if I can have it at 90 then you can have it too!”