Coronavirus: QA Hospital boss says first vaccine day at Portsmouth hub is 'historic' but warns that it is not a quick fix

THE boss of Queen Alexandra Hospital has branded the first day of Covid-19 vaccinations as ‘historic’ – but warned benefits of the vaccine would not be seen for a few months.

Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 7:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 9th December 2020, 11:55 am

Yesterday patients aged over 80 and care home workers received the Pfizer vaccine against Covid-19 at the hospital.

Chief executive of Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, which runs the hospital in Cosham, Mark Cubbon told The News that his staff had done an ‘amazing job’ on the first day.

He said: ‘It has gone incredibly well. We have been gearing up for this for a short while but specifically over the past week the intensity of the preparations really ramped up and the team have done an amazing job.

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Michael Tibbs, 99, being taken through by Liz Rix, Chief Nurse, to receive his COVID vaccine. Picture: Ewan Galvin/Solent News & Photo Agency

‘To have it in Portsmouth means that it is a historic day for us because we will all look back on this period in the future and think about the role we at QA have managed to play in helping us to combat Covid-19.

‘The feedback from our patients has been really good and we have had some really lovely stories from those we have been talking to and telling us the challenges they have had over the past few months like not seeing people through Covid-19.

‘When you hear the words hope and light at the end of the tunnel it is so heart-warming.’

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The team of nurses from QA hospital administering the Covid vaccine Picture: Galvin/Solent News & Photo Agency

But Mr Cubbon has also warned people that the vaccine is not a quick fix to the pandemic, which has seen more than 60,000 people lose their lives in the UK, and urged residents to carry on following their tier guidelines.

He said: ‘We can’t vaccinate everyone overnight. It is going to take time and Covid is still with us for a period of time and we have to make sure we are sticking to all the guidance around safe distance, mask and face coverings.

‘The worst isn’t over yet potentially and we need to make sure that we are being ever vigilant to contain the virus.

‘This has been such a real difficult time for families and loved ones and for anyone as individuals but we need to maintain the discipline and whilst we can see the hope and potential the vaccine offers, it is months away before we start to see the whole benefit.

Mark Cubbon, chief executive of Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust. Picture: Malcolm Wells.

‘While more and more people will be vaccinated, the impact of that will take some time to reduce transmission. It is just about us not thinking the vaccine is the solution to the here and now.

‘We need to stick to all the guidance. The risk is we continue to see a rise in transmission and then we end up in real difficulty across our whole community and we want to fight hard to protect it.’

QA will initially be vaccinating patients aged 80 and above who are already attending hospital as an outpatient and those who are being discharged home after a hospital stay.

NHS staff at the hospital who are at a ‘higher risk’ will also be receiving the jab, including those responsible for administering the vaccine.

The first person to be vaccinated at Queen Alexandra Hospital yesterday was 99-year-old Michael Tibbs.

Arriving at the hospital with his son Philip, Michael firstly had his temperature taken to ensure he was fit to receive the vaccine and was then talked through the process by QA’s chief nurse, Liz Rix.

After receiving the vaccine Michael said: ‘It's absolutely wonderful, I'm very lucky really. I hope everyone else is able to have it as it's really no problem at all. We are so fortunate to be in this country with its National Health Service. It really is excellent.’

Ms Rix added: ‘It was an absolute pleasure to give Michael his vaccination. It’s an exceptional day for us but we must remember we are far from the end of this virus. We all need to make sure we continue to do what we are asked and keep safe.’

It was announced last week that Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust was chosen as one of 50 NHS trusts to deliver the Pfizer vaccine.

Speaking about why the hospital was chosen, Mr Cubbon added: ‘I think a whole range of factors were considered. We have particular expertise in storage of drugs at low temperatures and also proximity between the different hubs across the country was considered.

‘We knew we would be playing some sort of role in terms of the vaccination delivery process but we weren’t sure if we would be a hub. We were notified not all that long ago but once the decision had been taken we gladly stepped up and now we not only have an opportunity for our local patients to have access but also for our care home staff and NHS staff eventually as well.’

The first person in the UK to receive the vaccine was Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week.

She was given the much heralded jab at 6.31am yesterday at University Hospital, Coventry. The second person to receive the jab was 81-year-old William Shakespeare.

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