Turning Back Time 2020 – First Henley Patients Get Covid-19 Vaccine

2020 as we all know was dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic which broke in March 2020 however we’ve chosen the amazing story of witnessing the first vaccinations being given at The Hart Surgery just 9 months later in December for our look back at the news this year for our 10th anniversary.

16 December 2020

It was a historic day in Henley today (Wednesday) with the first patients, over 80 years old, receiving the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Bell and Hart Surgeries.

Dr Michelle Brennan from The Hart Surgery and Dr Shellani Knight from The Bell Surgery were joined by Dr Lisa Silver from Nettlebed and Dr Kim Emerson from Sonning Common to give the immunisation to 975 patients in three and half days.  This was a small pilot programme and each of the surgeries selected a small cohort of people aged between 80-84.  Louise West Practice Manager at the Bell Surgery said, “We would dearly love to have offered to all our over 80’s and of course once we are into the full vaccination programme we will be inviting the remainder of those aged 80+ who were not invited as part of this pilot.”

Henley was selected to be part of the first wave of 280 GP practices across the country as they have a higher proportion of people aged over 80 than other areas of Oxfordshire.  The take up for the vaccine has been over 90%.  Those people who are eligible to receive the vaccine have already been contacted by their local GP practice and invited to attend an appointment. A second injection will be needed after 21 days.

In Oxfordshire, GPs and their practice colleagues have been working round the clock to put arrangements in place to start delivering the vaccination programme as soon as supplies are available. This vaccine is shown to offer up to 95% efficacy and has been given regulatory approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). An effective vaccine is the best way to protect the most vulnerable from coronavirus.

Dr Michelle Brennan, a GP at the Hart Surgery in Henley and PCN clinical director, said: “Coronavirus is the greatest health challenge in NHS history, taking loved ones from us and disrupting every part of our lives.

“We are delighted that the practices within our primary care network, consisting of the Bell and the Hart Surgeries, Nettlebed and Sonning Common, are now part of the first wave of local vaccination sites that will start vaccinating people who are most vulnerable.

“I would encourage patients to get the vaccine when called for it; the vaccine has been approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, having gone through their strict approval process and is currently our best defence against the virus.

“This is the latest step in the plans to roll out the vaccine across the country; other age groups and cohorts will be offered the vaccination in a phased approach, in line with national priorities. In addition to this, we can continue to keep ourselves and others safe by socially distancing, wearing a face covering and following the hand hygiene guidance.”

Christine and Alun Jones from Henley were one of the first patients to have the vaccine today.  Christine said, “I was absolutely delighted to be asked to have the vaccine.  I wasn’t nervous about coming today. It was just like the flu jab.  I feel alright so far, so good.  I would say to other people, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about.  Please, please get it and perhaps soon we can all move on.  Alun added, “We’ve been shielding and been very careful.  We’re not seeing our family at Christmas.  We had to cancel our holiday to Provence this July but we’ve booked it for next year when we hope we can now go.”

Dame Janet Husband (pictured above), a Professor of Radiology who researched and worked on the prototype of the world’s first CT body scanner 1976 was another to receive a Covid-19 vaccine.  Dame Janet is a patient at Nettlebed Surgery and was having her immunisation by Dr Lisa Silver.  Afterwards she said, “I think it’s amazing that this vaccine has been delivered in 9 months.  When there was first talk of the vaccine there was a general feeling, me and others in the medical world thought it would take a lot longer.  It’s just fantastic achievement.  I just hope people will take up the opportunity and the vaccine will be rolled out efficiently and effectively across the whole of the UK because Covid is not going away.  We need this programme going.  I feel extremely fortunate that I’m in the right age group.”   Janet continues to work for Spire Healthcare as an independent non-executive director.  She added, “I have been so proud to witness the spirit of everyone in our hospitals all going that extra mile.  Everyone is really committed and dedicated to putting patients first.  They have all worked so hard.  It’s great to see how the NHS and the independent sector working together this year.  I think that it is something good that will come out of Covid.  I am looking forward to getting back out to our hospitals again and seeing people face to face and also my family.”

Volunteers from Henley Lions, Henley Rotary Clubs and Phyllis Court Club managed and directed cars at the doctors surgeries’ car park.

In the coming weeks, GPs and other healthcare staff within their Primary Care Networks (PCN) will start vaccinating as the programme gathers pace. People within these areas will be contacted when the vaccine is available for them and appointments will be arranged.



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