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'It feels such a relief': First coronavirus vaccinations rolled out for residents in Haverhill



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The first coronavirus vaccinations for residents in Haverhill were rolled out earlier today - a moment described as 'such a relief' by one doctor.

Those at the front of the queue for the first jabs made their way to The EpiCentre which is normally used for its office space and laboratories.

Many had been shielding for months and months, many alone as well.

Booths were set up to administer the vaccine in a safe and controlled environment Picture by Sam Walker
Booths were set up to administer the vaccine in a safe and controlled environment Picture by Sam Walker

For Zoe Needham, one of the GPs administering the vaccinations, she said today felt a 'relief'.

"The virus rates are frighteningly high at the moment but at least now we have something in our armoury to do something about them," she said.

On the roll out today she added: "It's going really well considering it's our first time doing this.

The EpiCentre at Haverhill Research Park
The EpiCentre at Haverhill Research Park

"It's exciting and we are really keen to get going.

"The mood is really good and patients are happy and jovial."

One of those patients was Jean Wingfield, 81, who lives nearby in Hempstead Road, a 15 minute walk from the EpiCentre.

When asked what she was most looking forward to having had her first dose, she said: "Seeing my grandchildren and my children. I don't see anybody.

Jean Wingfield was one of the first in line to have her first dose of the vaccine this morning Picture by Sam Walker
Jean Wingfield was one of the first in line to have her first dose of the vaccine this morning Picture by Sam Walker

"On your own it's really lonely. I speak to them on the phone but it's not the same."

The first vaccinations have come after months of hard work from the Suffolk Federation, a not-for-profit organisation owned by 57 GP practices covering 650,000 patients, to ensure everything was set and ready to go.

Julie Smith, from the Federation and programme lead for the project, said it had been really 'hard work' to get to this stage.

Zachary Luff, 20, a steward who was guiding those receiving their vaccinations through the process Picture by Sam Walker
Zachary Luff, 20, a steward who was guiding those receiving their vaccinations through the process Picture by Sam Walker

"We've had people working without sleep, particularly getting the IT ready," she said.

"We have had people working long hours."

Julie said they had received over around 1000 applications from people offering to help out in some way with the roll out and gave thanks to them and her team for all their efforts.

"My care team have been absolutely dedicated," she said.

"I couldn't have really asked any more of them.

"They have really risen to the challenge."

Two staff on hand to help out were related as well.

Zachary Luff, 20, who would have been studying at De Montfort University, was stewarding alongside his mother Georgina, a senior nurse in charge of mixing the vaccinations together before being administered.

He said: "It's running really smoothly and everyone's been really supportive.

"The people coming in are being supportive as well."

"It's a moment to take pride in as we are all doing something to help the process, so we can all get back to our lives," he added.

The EpiCentre will be open seven days a week from 8am-8pm averaging 285 vaccines per day.

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