THE FIRST dose of the new Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine has been administered in Lancashire.

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) has become one of the first trusts across the country to start vaccinating with the new vaccine, with Hilary Birch being the first person to receive the jab at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary (RLI).

Hilary, a Patient Flow Controller from the RLI, former Matron and mum to four children, has been working for the NHS for the last 34 years and she was the first to receive the Oxford AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in Lancashire.

Hilary, 58, who was born in Barrow and now lives in Kendal, has worked at the RLI since 1993.

She said: “It’s brilliant news that the Oxford vaccine is now being given out. It’s going to make such a difference to everyone. I can’t believe I’m the first one at our Trust to have had it – I'm very fortunate!”

Hilary is hopeful that the vaccination programme will eventually make life better for patients, colleagues, family, friends and the NHS. 

She continued: “If it enables us to keep our workforce in work that will be a huge benefit. It has been hard for everyone when people have had to isolate or shield from the virus.

“I hope the vaccination programme will eventually bring some normality back to people’s lives.”

Throughout the pandemic Hilary’s job has been to ensure a smooth flow of patients through the hospital so that there hasn’t been a backlog or pressure on the Emergency Department (ED) at the RLI. 

The NHS is the first health service in the world to deliver the new life-saving jab in the next stage of the phased vaccine programme.   

Hundreds of new vaccination sites are due to come on-stream this week, joining the 700 which are already in operation.   

The first Oxford AstraZeneca vaccinations will be delivered at a small number of hospitals for the first few days for surveillance purposes, as is standard practice, before the bulk of supplies are sent to hundreds of GP-led services later in the week.   

Read More: Lancashire hospital trust receive first doses of Oxford and AstraZeneca vaccine

Aaron Cummins, Chief Executive, UHMBT, said: “We are over the moon to be selected as one of the first trusts to deliver the new Oxford AstraZeneca vaccination. This is part of the biggest vaccination programme in the history of the NHS and we are very proud to be playing our part.   

“To think that we now have two approved vaccines against a virus that we had never seen before early last year is just astounding and this is testament to the incredibly hard work of all the scientists, research teams and the staggering number of people who chose to be part of research studies. All of this determination to come together means that we now understand the virus better than ever and are in a much stronger position to fight it."

The vaccine is easier to transport and store than the Pfizer jab, which has to be kept at minus 70 degrees until shortly before it is used, making it easier to deliver.

In line with national guidance, the vaccine will be offered at the RLI to UHMBT colleagues who are at higher risk from COVID-19.    

Those eligible to receive the vaccine will receive an invitation to book their appointment.

Residents are asked not to contact the NHS to get an appointment until they have received this letter.