First patients receive Covid vaccine at GP surgery

Elderly woman holding her vaccine sticker outside the GP

One of the first people to get a vaccine was 89-year-old Rita O’Connor, a former NHS nurse originally from Ireland. - Credit: Archant

Seven GP practices across Norfolk and Waveney have started vaccinating patients against coronavirus. Reporter Aaron McMillan visited one.

The seven sites which will act as primary care hubs will vaccinate both their own patients and ones from neighbouring practices.

They include St James Medical Practice in King's Lynn, where on Tuesday people sat and waited under a gazebo for their number to be called before they could have their injection.

One of the first to be called was 89-year-old Rita O’Connor, a former NHS nurse originally from Ireland.

Miss O’Connor, who still volunteers for the NHS, has, like many, not had the chance to see her family this year.

She would usually travel across to Ireland three or four times a year to see them, as well as family in Holland.

She said she was surprised by the ease of the vaccination.

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“I was really pleased because I thought it would be complicated but it was so straightforward and simple,” she said.

“They gave me a time for this visit and one in three weeks' time, and I was really pleased to have the opportunity.

“I'm quite surprised, I didn't think it was going to be as straightforward as it was.

“My experience is that there is absolutely no problem. I've had it now and it was so straightforward and it is to help us all to move on."

A elderly man wearing a face masks outside a GP practice in Kings Lynn after he got his COVID-19 Vaccine

GP practices across Norfolk and Waveney are poised to start vaccinating patients against COVID-19. One of the hubs is St James Medical Practice in King's Lynn. - Credit: Archant

The executive partner of St James Medical Practice, Prabir Mitra, has led his team through the pandemic and has helped the operation of vaccines become a reality.

He said there were scary times at the height of the pandemic. But, as they turned up at 7am this morning to get ready for patients to arrive and get their jab, it marked the huge success of his team and a "ray of hope".

“A lot of enthusiasm and a lot of time and effort has gone in. All the staff members have been absolutely brilliant,” he said.

“We have been working flat out, really quite late in the night, over the last week or so. It is really exciting and I hope that this gives them the necessary protection that we are all wanting to get.

“If we can do something which is in the best interest of the patients, that is the most satisfying thing that can happen to a doctor in their professional life.”

Elderly people stand outside a GP in Kings Lynn holding up their vaccine sticker.

Patients outside St James Medical Practice in King's Lynn after receiving their Covid-19 vaccine. - Credit: Archant

After the patients passed through and received the vaccine, they were placed in a second waiting room, outside the practice's main entrance. There they were held for 15 minutes to make sure they felt okay.

Caring for them was first time NHS volunteer, Abbie Panks.

She woke up at 5am on Tuesday morning and stayed until 8pm to support people, ease any fears and calm any nerves. She said offering to help was the "right thing to do".

A women in her 40s wearing a grey coat and a high viz jacket.

First time NHS volunteer, Abbie Panks outside St James Medical Practice in King's Lynn. - Credit: Archant

“The NHS has worked so hard to get this far, now that an opportunity has come up to be able to support the team to take a bit of that weight off their shoulders it just seemed absolutely the right thing to do,” she said.

“I walked a lady down earlier and she said she felt really privileged to be here today and it was really quite moving.

“I've been across lots of different parts of the practice today doing different bits of volunteering, but actually being out here talking to people about the vaccination has been brilliant. I’m looking forward to seeing them again in three weeks.”

Vaccinations began last week at two hospital hubs in Norfolk - the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and the James Paget University Hospital (JPUH). 

At the NNUH, 86-year-old Kenneth Ireland, from Wymondham, was the first to be vaccinated.