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Doctors set to roll out coronavirus jab across Newmarket and Mildenhall in early January as vaccine is injected into arms across Suffolk

Doctors are hoping to give out the first coronavirus-busting jabs in Newmarket and its surrounding Suffolk villages in the new year, as the government ramps up the biggest vaccination drive in British history.

The life-saving vaccine is expected to be rolled out across the Forest Heath area - covering towns and villages like Newmarket, Mildenhall, Red Lodge and Lakenheath - in early January.

Newmarket GP Dr Nicholas Rayner said: “The vaccine prevents 95 per cent of Covid-19 infections seven days after a completed course. It is very safe, with only a small number of reported mild side effects.”

Gladys and Dick Hatley; Gladys being vaccinated by Dr Richard Brixey (43589232)
Gladys and Dick Hatley; Gladys being vaccinated by Dr Richard Brixey (43589232)

He urged patients to get one when offered to protect themselves and the community.

“Patients will be contacted by NHS England when they are eligible,” said Dr Rayner. “Eligibility depends on patient age and they will be invited in age groups.”

Jabs have started in Soham, with a couple who have not had contact with their grandchildren for months were among the first in the world to receive the new life-saving Covid-19 vaccine.

Woolpit Health Centre, Roll out of Covid vaccine jabs. Picture by Mark Westley. (43629887)
Woolpit Health Centre, Roll out of Covid vaccine jabs. Picture by Mark Westley. (43629887)

Eighty-seven-year-old Gladys Hatley and her husband Dick had the first of two shots of the vaccine on Tuesday.

Married for 67 years, the couple had self-isolated at the onset of the pandemic. Cut off from the outside world, they have not seen their family of nine children, grandchildren and great grandchildren for months.

Dick, 88, the first to get the jab in the area, said: “I’m very pleased to have it, and honoured we are the first. All the family, all of my grandchildren, all of them said ‘go get it grandad, be silly not to’.”

Matt Hancock, Health Secretary (43629897)
Matt Hancock, Health Secretary (43629897)

The jabs were administered to the pensioners at the Staploe Medical Centre by Dr Richard Brixey.

And back across the border in Suffolk, patients at Woolpit Health Centre, near Bury St Edmunds, had their jabs on Wednesday.

Dr Richard West of the health centre said it was 'absolutely thrilling' to be able to get the vaccine out so quickly.

"It is very rewarding being at the frontline of the science, delivering this to our patients," said Dr West.

"One of the messages we are sending patients is please don't phone the surgery. We have to keep people safe. We will get to everybody as quickly as we can."

Five vaccination centres opened in east and West Suffolk in the past week as part of the world-leading rollout.

But Matt Hancock, health secretary and MP for West Suffolk, warned people to not drop their guard over Christmas.

“We need to keep washing our hands, covering our face, and making space,” he said. “Just because we have a vaccine, we absolutely must not become complacent. We can see light at the end of the tunnel – but there is a way to go yet before we are completely in the clear.”

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