THE sun had yet to rise when pensioner Mary Murray today created a piece of history in the borough.
The 80-year-old widow from Dukinfield became the first of Tameside’s 225,197 residents to receive the new Covid-19 vaccine.
Mary, who used to work in the restaurant at Tameside Hospital, was taken to the drive-through vaccination point at Hyde Leisure Centre by daughter Elaine for an 8am appointment unaware that she was first in the queue for the vaccine and unprepared for the interest it created.
“I feel overwhelmed by everything. I didn’t realise it would be such a big occasion,” she explained.
Mary, who received the Pfizer/BioNTech innoculations vaccine, had no qualms about being immunised.
She said: “It is a relief, and I would urge everyone to have it. There was no pain with the injection and there is nothing to be afraid of.
“The vaccine is our only hope of a return to normality.”
Mary was contacted by email last week by the Dukinfield Medical Practice with an invite to be vaccinated.
And with a granddaughter who is a doctor and another a scientist at The Christie, that reinforced Mary’s determination to have the vaccine.
Mary added it has been a challenging year having to isolate and not see family and friends as well as seeing her 80th birthday party in April cancelled.“It has been a tough year for everyone, but we have kept to the rules and thankfully all stayed safe,” she said.Mary, who was advised not to shop or use public transport, goes out for a daily exercise walk and has been to several services at St Mary’s Church in a mask.
Brian Schonhut, 84, from Hyde, was also one of the first to be vaccinated as he arrived on his mobility scooter from his nearby sheltered housing bungalow.
The retired builder had contacted Hyde’s The Brooke Surgery to ask for the jab as he has underlying health issues which put him in the high-risk category
Widower Brian, a cancer and stroke survivor, has twice survived pneumonia, had an aneurysm repaired and had surgery to remove his bladder, prostate and a kidney, adding he owed a great debt of gratitude to the NHS.
He said: “I was anxious to get the vaccine and relieved to have had it, though I have to go back for the second one on January 6.
“My arm aches a little but other than that I am fine. I would urge everybody to have it so we can get back to some normality.
“It has been tough as during the first lockdown I stayed in for 15 weeks with my two daughters doing my shopping.
“I get out for a ride on my scooter into Hyde or to shop at Morrisons.”
Brian, though Hyde born and bred, explained the origin of his unusual name which is German.
His grandfather Charles, who lived in a tiny village in the Black Forest, emigrated in 1882 and had how own butcher’s shop in Denton.
In terms of the vaccination rollout, the operation is a drive through model similar to the flu clinic.
Letters were sent to everyone aged over 80 and registered with a Hyde GP and those aged 90 and over were contacted personally by practices.
More than 970 appointments were booked in for Wednesday and Thursday (Dec 16, 17) at Hyde Leisure Centre with the two days fully booked.
A wider rollout will continue over the coming days and weeks and only those invited can book an appointment.NHS Tameside & Glossop Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) worked quickly in partnership with GPs and Tameside Council to establish the first Primary Care Network (PCN) vaccine hub in Hyde with more to follow across the area in the next few weeks.
They say do not contact the NHS or your GP to get an appointment until you receive a letter. All the people vaccinated will automatically be booked in for a booster jab 21 days later.
NHS Tameside and Glossop CCG co-chairmen Dr Asad Ali and Dr Ashwin Ramachandra said: “Our staff have been working around the clock to prepare for the launch of the biggest immunisation programme in our country’s history.
“Through partnership working we have quickly established the first vaccine hub in Tameside ready to carry out life-saving vaccinations for the most vulnerable, while more hubs are being prepared to roll out vaccinations across Tameside and Glossop.”
Following extensive trials, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is the first safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19 to be approved by regulators.
People aged 80 and over as well as care home workers are the first to receive the jab, along with NHS workers who are at higher risk.
GP-led primary care networks (PCN) will now begin administering them with more practices joining in on a phased basis over the coming months. Larger vaccination centres will begin when further supplies come on stream.
Hubs will be set up in PCNs for Ashton, Glossop (covering Gamesley), Denton (covering Droylsden and Audenshaw) and Stalybridge (covering Dukinfield and Mossley).
Those receiving the vaccine may not be protected until at least seven days after their second dose. People who are suffering from a fever-type illness or Covid symptoms should postpone having the vaccine until they have recovered. You still need the vaccine if you have already had Covid-19 as this does not mean you cannot get it again.
You can find out more about the vaccine at www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/why-vaccination-is-safe-and-important/