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First Island resident vaccinated against Covid-19

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The Isle of Man’s Covid-19 vaccination programme is underway, with health and care staff from across the Island receiving the vaccine in the first few weeks of the roll-out.

Over the next three days, 975 vaccinations will be given to staff from all parts of the health and care system at a hub created in the former Ward 20 at Newlands, on the Noble’s Hospital site.

The first person to be vaccinated was 55-year old Sandie Hannay, a member of DHSC staff who works as a senior residential support officer in the Learning Disability service. Frontline health and care staff in areas that work with the vulnerable, or are medically vulnerable themselves, have been made the first priority group for vaccination, to protect those who provide vital services and the patients and service users they care for.

While having her vaccination, Sandie chatted to reporters and photographers from the local media who had been invited to witness the history making event. She explained she was keen to be vaccinated so that she stays healthy to continue providing care to vulnerable people – and expressed hopes that other staff and residents will register without delay for vaccination when invited.

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has been stored in deep freeze since its delivery to the Island just before Christmas. A tray of the vaccine was removed from the freezer and thawed before being transported to Ward 20, where the vials are reconstituted according to strict protocols and prepared for putting into arms, the whole process carried out within a limited time frame.

A team of registered healthcare professionals trained in the specific requirements of preparing and administering the vaccine are being supported by healthcare assistant colleagues who ensure the comfort and safety of patients at the centre, from arrival through to departure. Clinical admin staff are on hand to welcome patients, provide information about the vaccine and obtain their informed consent, in line with a formal process set out by Public Health England and the manufacturer.

Health and Social Care Minister David Ashford who was present to support staff as the vaccination programme commenced, said:

‘Waiting until the New Year to commence roll-out was the right thing to do. Staff from a number of areas have put in huge efforts to get to this point, at what is already a very busy time for our health services. I want to thank all those who went the extra mile over the Christmas break to ensure we were ready to start vaccinating in the first working week of 2021, and thanks too to Sandie, for being a great role model for our programme.

He added:

‘Two vaccines are now proven safe and effective in the fight against Covid-19 and it is important that we provide vaccinations to priority groups as swiftly as possible, to protect our population. Vaccines are the key to returning to a more normal way of life - here, in the UK and across the world. In light of the additional transmission threat posed by the new variant of the virus, I urge everyone, when they are invited to register, to do so. Vaccination prevents people becoming seriously ill with Covid and so will reduce demand for acute health services, while at the same time helping to protect the most vulnerable members of society, including those with serious illnesses who cannot currently receive the vaccine.’

The vaccination programme will continue to expand in the next few weeks with health and care home residents and the over-80s, in line with the latest UK advice and as vaccine stocks allow.