OUR PARTNER TO START COVID-19 VACCINATION PROGRAMME THIS WEEK

The coronavirus vaccine is being rolled out in Coventry from this week at the hospital hub of our partner University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire Trust (UHCW).

Chief Executive Professor Andy Hardy hailed the “fabulous news” that a Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, describing it as “the beginning of the end” of the pandemic.

UHCW is one of the first in the country to receive the coronavirus vaccine.

And there’s more good news, as Professor Hardy also revealed that the second wave has ‘passed its peak’ locally and he feels, as long as everyone continues to adhere to restrictions, that both Coventry and Warwickshire could be placed into more relaxed Tier 2 restrictions before Christmas.

When will the first people start getting the vaccine?

Professor Hardy confirmed the first people to receive the vaccine in Coventry and Warwickshire will do so at the hospital this week.

He added that, while there are always certain factors to consider, he is “fairly confident” that the timescales will run to plan.

Who will be first in line for the vaccine?

Priorities are set nationally and first in line are care home staff and residents, he said.

“After that, we are looking at the over 80s, as they are the most vulnerable, and health and care staff,” he added.

The roll-out for care homes will be ‘challenging’, he acknowledged, because the vaccination has to take place at hospital.

“From next week we can mobilise care home staff to come on site here and have the vaccine,” he said.

The hospital is working closely with the city council to address the challenges of rolling out the vaccine to care home residents.

Professor Hardy said: “The over 80s will be contacted, and that will start next week.

“Longer term, other vaccines are coming out that are not so challenging and could get sent straight to GP practices so the vaccine can be administered there.

“It will move down the age groups, and we are also looking at younger people with underlying conditions.”

Professor Hardy said that, other than care home workers and health and care staff, people working in particular industries are not being considered as priorities.

Professor Hardy paid tribute to all the staff at UHCW for their hard work in an “incredibly challenging year” – and to members of the community for showing their gratitude in various ways, which he said has made a real difference.

“[The vaccine] is fabulous news for society,” he added. “This is the beginning of the end. We don’t know when the end is going to be, but this is the way out of the Covid challenge and the way to begin living a normal life again.

“Staff have been working incredibly hard for months now. They are exposed to the virus, they are exposing their families to it, but this will help alleviate that concern.

“It is going to take a while to get as many people vaccinated as they need to – but the end is in sight.

“Between spring and summer next year we will be back to normal.”

“It’s been an incredibly challenging year,” Professor Hardy said.

“People are tired. But they are still doing their jobs wonderfully. I have never been prouder to be the chief executive of UHCW.

“We do as much as we possibly can to support the health and wellbeing of our staff who, like everyone else, are looking forward to spending time with their families this Christmas.

“But – like every year – hundreds of our staff will be working Christmas Day.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to all the communities who support the NHS in various different ways – it really does mean a lot and it’s a massive boost.

“Please continue to stick to the rules, and if you need to go to hospital or your GP if something isn’t right or needs checking out, please do so.”

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