IT IS a milestone event in the local response to coronavirus – the first Covid vaccine being administered in Shetland.
NHS Shetland’s occupational health nurse Sam Wylie, who will be a vaccinator herself, received the jab this morning (Friday) at Montfield in Lerwick.
Following some “logistical” issues the first batch of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine arrived in the isles on Thursday, two days after the vaccination programme got underway nationally.
Wylie said she felt lucky and “relieved” to be the first person in Shetland to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
“Everybody is keen to get it done as it will be the first step in getting back to normality,” she said.
Occupational health nurse Margaret Cooper, who administered the vaccine, described the last ten months as “challenging” workwise and added that although today was an important milestone it would still take a lot of time to vaccinate the population.
Overseeing the island-wide vaccination programme, senior occupational health advisor Bernadette Dunne said it will take many months before a sufficient amount of people will be vaccinated.
With Covid restrictions in place, NHS Shetland will be able to vaccinate between 75 and 100 people per day, starting with care home staff and NHS frontline workers.
Dunne said: “I am relieved to see my own team protected from this very infectious disease. They will now go on this afternoon to vaccinate social care workers and some NHS staff.”
The Pfizer vaccine has to be taken in two doses. Getting vaccinated is not mandatory but Dunne said that most people working in health and social care had indicated that they would get the vaccine.
Those who are getting the first dose over coming days will get the second administered early in the new year.
Dunne said the vaccination programme will go on for many months but accelerate as more batches as well as different vaccines become available. A second batch of the Pfizer vaccine is expected to arrive in the isles next week.
She said a lot of preparation and cooperation with national bodies had been going on to make all this happen: “It has been hard work, but then in healthcare you are never frightened of hard work.
“My team feel proud and relieved; proud to serve the people of Shetland, and relieved to see that the people have a light at the end of the tunnel.”
However, Brian Chittick, the chief officer of the integration joint board – the body that brings health and social care together – warned that it was vital to continue to act in a responsible and vigilant manner with regards to Covid-19.
“We will not at a place before Christmas where we have everybody vaccinated,” he said.
“As we are heading towards Christmas it is still really important that we are adhering to all the guidelines because that is that will keep us going until we get further tranches of the vaccination done.
“It is ongoing work and will not be finished by Christmas. It is really important that we stick to the same rules we have been adhering for the last few months to make winter and the festive period as safe as possible.”
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