December marks the first anniversary of the Covid-19 vaccine being available across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire, and thanks have been given to the army of staff and volunteers who have helped make the programme a triumphant success.
Since the first vaccine was given at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon on Tuesday 8 December, teams across the region have pulled out all the stops to deliver a staggering 1.7 million vaccinations.
In the space of just 12 months, more than 85 per cent of all adults have received at least one vaccination, and more than 79 per cent have had both doses.
Teams are now working hard to provide the Covid-19 booster vaccine to people over the age of 40, ahead of the top-up doses being made available to all adults aged between 18 and 39-years-old.
Although some additional 1,500 members of staff, including volunteers and military personnel, have been working in the region’s vaccination centres, such as Bath Racecourse, Salisbury City Hall and the Steam Museum in Swindon, most staff in the venues have supported the vaccination programme while continuing with their existing frontline duties.
Celebrity explorer, survival expert and Wiltshire resident Bear Grylls spent time volunteering at Swindon’s Steam Museum in the early days of the vaccination programme.
He said: “It was a true privilege to volunteer alongside so many true British heroes for the NHS jab army vaccination drive.
“To hear their stories and see how dedicated so many unsung helpers have been during this last year is a reminder that a kind, courageous and selfless spirit is alive and well throughout our country.”
More information about the local rollout of the coronavirus vaccine can be found online at www.bswccg.nhs.uk.
Front line heroes: Dr Sian Edwards, Senior Clinician
“I’ve been part of the team at the Steam Museum since December 2020, when I was still a full time GP at Elm Tree Surgery in Swindon.
“I have since retired from the practice, but I’ve chosen to stay on and support the vaccination programme, as it is such a worthwhile cause.
“The sense of teamwork, camaraderie and friendship that I get from being here three days a week is incomparable, and it means so much to me to be able to continue helping people through these tough times.
“On our busiest days, up to 2,500 people can come through our doors, which means we’re always working flat out, with me and my vaccinator colleagues usually getting through around 160 vaccinations during each clinic.
“My personal record for the number vaccinations given in a single day is 214 and, while I was definitely exhausted at the end of the shift, it felt fantastic to know that I had played a part in helping to protect so many people, all of whom have had their lives completely turned upside down by coronavirus.
“That’s why we do what we do, so we can help people in our local communities get back to doing the things they love with the people they love.
“We all have a social responsibility to get vaccinated, and I would strongly urge anyone who has not yet had the jab – which most of my patients tell me they don’t even feel – to come forward sooner rather than later.”