First NHS staff in the region receive the Oxford AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

Tracy Barnett receiving the newly approved vaccine. Credit: South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust

Frontline NHS staff in South Tyneside and Sunderland are among the first in the region to receive the newly approved Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine.

Tracy Barnett from the South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust’s Community Stroke Team was the very first to be vaccinated at South Tyneside District Hospital today.

It’s such a wonderful privilege to be able to receive this vaccine after the monumental work of the scientists developing this.

Tracy Barnett, NHS worker

Tracy went on to say: “As a clinical member of staff it’s given me a lot of reassurance of having that first line of defence against COVID-19. It’s also providing a great moral boost to the staff, both clinical and non-clinical, who have been working tirelessly during this pandemic. I hope that it gives reassurance to our patients and their families that we are now receiving this vaccination and hopefully this is the start of returning to some form of normality.”

In recent weeks the region's hospitals have experienced a rise in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and implemented a number of measures before Christmas to try and reduce further spread of the virus.

Whilst this is only the first batch of the vaccine to be received, it marks an important step in the fight against coronavirus and is seen as positive news for both patients and NHS staff. 

NHS Staff in South Tyneside and Sunderland are among the first in the region to receive the newly approved vaccine Credit: South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust

South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Chief Executive, Ken Bremner, said: “We are delighted to be able to start the New Year on a positive and be the very first acute and community Trust in the region to receive the new vaccine. There is absolutely no doubt that the past few months have been tremendously difficult for our staff and we had a very busy run up to Christmas with the numbers of confirmed COVID-19 patients back to where they were in the first wave. Our priority has always been to continue to provide excellent, safe patient care for everyone who needs."

Our teams have gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic and news of the vaccine will no doubt come as a huge relief and give us all a little hope. Clearly this is just the start of the process, but we are confident and well prepared to roll out the vaccine to all staff and eligible patients in the coming weeks and months.

Ken Bremner, South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Chief Executive

NHS Trust bosses are appealing for the public to continue to be vigilant, maintainging good hand hygine, wearig masks and adhering to social distancing rules, to avoid hospitals being overrun with covid patients.

They are, however, positive that this second vaccine provides further hope, that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Over 650 clinically extremely vulnerable and frontline staff from the Trust have already received the vaccination thanks to GP hubs in South Tyneside, Sunderland and Easington.

The Trust is also reminding member of the public that those who are eligible for the vaccine will be contacted directly and are reminded to wait until it’s their turn and not contact the NHS for a vaccination before then.