What an unforgettable year it has been.
Exactly 12 months ago today, the first vaccination against Covid-19 was given.
Just days later, great-grandad Kenneth Lamb was the first patient in Kent and Medway to have the life-saving vaccination against Covid-19.
Kenneth, 80, from New Romney, was vaccinated at the William Harvey Hospital vaccination hub in Ashford. At the time, he said: “I couldn’t believe it when they phoned to say I could have the vaccine – but I didn’t have to think twice about it.’’
Now, 365 days later, more than three million vaccinations have been given in the county.
NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group’s Clinical Chair Navin Kumta said: “We always knew there was a challenge ahead of us and that we needed to do our very best.
“I am so proud of everyone who has supported in whatever way they have been able to. We have more to do, but have done so well so far.’’
But how has the NHS in Kent and Medway managed to deliver – and continue to deliver – the biggest vaccination programme the UK has ever seen?
From the very beginning, the rollout involved a huge effort from GPs, community pharmacies, other NHS providers and volunteers. Without their hard work, we would not have been able to vaccinate 83 per cent of people with a first dose of vaccine and 92 per cent of eligible groups with a second dose, as well as provide more than 500,000 booster doses to date.
Only days after the first vaccine was given at a hospital hub, vaccinations by GPs began. Since 15 December 2020, to-date, GPs have given more than 1.8 million doses to people across Kent and Medway, including those in care homes and people who are housebound.
These vaccination services have been in addition to day-to-day GP services, which they continued to provide throughout the pandemic.
And then came large vaccination centres when they were most needed – Folca in Folkestone, Saga in Ramsgate, Woodville in Gravesend, Angel Centre in Tonbridge and Pentagon Centre in Chatham.
The first, Folca, opened on 26 January 2021 and was soon followed by the other four. In total, the large vaccination centres administered more than half a million doses of the vaccine.
And while Woodville and Angel Centre closed, Saga and Folca were taken over by GP-led teams, while Pentagon remains open seven-days-a-week.
On 9 February 2020, seven community pharmacies joined the vaccination programme; they were joined by another 15, resulting in 22 delivering vaccines across Kent and Medway.
Pharmacies have administered more than half a million vaccines, and can be found on the high street, in town centres and in hard-to-reach communities. Their support is set to grow in the next phase of the booster programme in the coming days and weeks.
And what would have happened without our volunteers? An absolute army of volunteers has given up time to help make sure people living in Kent and Medway have had access to the Covid-19 vaccine.
Vaccination pop-up sites appeared across the county, from the Open Golf Championship in Sandwich, to the vaccine bus at Mid-Kent College in Maidstone, Dockside Outlet Centre, Chatham and at Margate beach, to name just a few.
NHS Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group’s Chief Nurse Paula Wilkins said: “The Covid-19 vaccine rollout has been the biggest vaccine programme in NHS history.
“The past year has tested us all to our limit, but particularly my NHS colleagues across Kent and Medway. We’ve had to plan and manage a service and teams had to hit the ground running and be able to plan and implement the programme in ever changing conditions.
“I think everyone involved in the vaccination programme can look back at the past year and be very proud of the work that they have done.’’
Latest statistics for Kent and Medway show:
- 3,145,664 total doses, of which 497,554 are third booster doses.
- 93 per cent of cohorts 1-9 have had two doses.
- 74 per cent of those eligible have had their booster.
- 69 per cent of everyone over 18 has had two doses.
- 62 per cent of 16 to 17-year-olds have had one dose.
- 46 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds have had one dose.