Centenarian identical twins Dorothy Sivyer and Kathleen Whitehead are used to doing things together.
So it was no surprise the sisters had their Covid-19 vaccines side-by-side today (Wednesday, 20 January).
The sisters, believed to be the UK’s oldest identical twins, were thrilled to have the vaccinations at Rochester Healthy Living Centre in Medway.
Kathleen said: “It’s very exciting. We haven’t been out much lately and are keeping safe at home. But it’s important to have this vaccination so we can all get on with life.”
Dorothy added: “We do most things together so of course we were going to do this together too. We’re very grateful to be getting the vaccination.”
Kathleen added: “People shouldn’t be afraid to get it. It will help us all get back to normal.”
The ladies were born as the Spanish flu pandemic ended and lived through World War II, with Dorothy dispatched to deal with wounded troops from the D-Day landings and Kathleen conscripted to the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.
Dorothy worked as a radiographer for the NHS and Kathleen as a teacher.
They said they think those working in their previous professions now are “doing a marvellous job in difficult times."
The pair, who live in Rochester, took everything in their stride as they joined the queue of people having vaccinations yesterday.
Local GP Dr Peter Gilbert is the mastermind behind the military style operation to deliver the Covid-19 vaccinations at Rochester Healthy Living Centre and Lordswood Healthy Living Centre which is working its way through the population of three primary care networks, having already vaccinated care home residents and staff.
He said: “Covid is for many people an absolutely devastating illness. There are a few times in the life of most doctors and certainly in the life of general practice when you can feel you are really making an immediate difference to people’s lives and potentially saving people’s lives.
“We’re finding people are incredibly grateful. Many of them haven’t been outside of their homes since March and that has two effects. One, they are so pleased it’s happening but for many it’s a really emotional experience and their first time seeing people.”
Dr Gilbert, who practices at the Thorndike Centre in Rochester asked people to remain patient while waiting for their vaccine and to wait for their GP practice to get in touch.
He admits running the operation is exhausting, “but it’s a kind of exhaustion that makes you feel that you’ve really done something good and something positive. A feeling I probably last had when I was in the UK hospital in Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.”
Dr Gilbert, who provided care for military personnel injured in the war in Afghanistan, and is also the Deputy Lieutenant for Kent, praised the volunteers who are supporting the roll out of the vaccination.
“We couldn’t do it without the volunteers,” he said. “They are doing a fantastic job.”
More information on the vaccination programme in Kent and Medway is available on our Covid-19 vaccine webpage.
Notes to editors:
The world record for oldest twins is held by sisters Kin Narita and Gin Kanie of Japan who each lived to be at least 107 before Kin's death in 2000. The oldest living twins in the UK are believed to be Alice Sleaford and Mary Taylor, aged 105 years.