Chelsea Pensioners among first elderly care residents to receive Covid-19 vaccine

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Lucy Watson

Around 300 Chelsea Pensioners are among the first elderly care home residents in England to be given the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine.

Hailed as "the best early Christmas present we could hope for," veterans living at the Royal Hospital Chelsea were offered the jab on Wednesday.

One of the recipients was 98-year-old D-Day veteran Bob Sullivan.

"This year has changed life as we know it, causing uncertainty and worry," he said.

"Getting vaccinated against coronavirus is the best early Christmas gift we could hope for, and thanks to our nursing team here and NHS staff like Pippa we will have a real spring in our step as we head into our locked down Christmas."

The D-Day veteran said it had been difficult not seeing his family during the pandemic and that he was "looking forward" to seeing them again soon.

Pippa Nightingale, chief nurse at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, carried out the vaccinations - calling it a "real honour".

Ms Nightingale said: "Delivering this life-saving vaccine to the Chelsea Pensioners is a real honour, they’ve fought to protect us and now we can return the favour and help protect them from coronavirus.

"The NHS has had a fantastic start to its largest ever vaccination programme, it is a positive way to end what has been a challenging year for the NHS and feels very rewarding to be administering the vaccine."

The doses administered are part of a programme that will see elderly residents in care homes in England with more than 50 beds offered the jab in the coming weeks.

Bob Sullivan was the first of the Chelsea Pensioners to be vaccinated. Credit: PA

General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, Governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, said the moment "marks a new chapter in the Hospital’s battle with coronavirus."

He added: "With an average age of 82, the Chelsea Pensioners are in the highest priority group to receive the vaccine.

"We all look forward to a better 2021 when they can be out and about representing the nation’s veterans throughout the country.

"Meanwhile, they send their warmest wishes to the nation as they too, batten down the hatches to celebrate a socially-distanced Christmas."

Credit: PA

Minister for Care Helen Whately added: "I’m delighted that many care staff and residents have already been able to receive their first jabs, including our veterans, the Chelsea Pensioners who fought to protect us.

"With more than 500,000 people already vaccinated – including social care staff – this is the biggest immunisation programme in UK history, and we’re determined to vaccinate many more people over the Christmas period."