NHS marks second anniversary of life-saving COVID-19 vaccine with special tribute to NHS staff, pharmacies and volunteers

The NHS in the Midlands is marking the second-year anniversary of the COVID vaccine rollout by paying a special tribute to the monumental effort of NHS staff, pharmacies and volunteers who have delivered over 27 million vaccinations since the campaign began on 8 December 2020.

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The biggest vaccine campaign in NHS history began in the Midlands exactly two-years ago at University Hospital, Coventry, when May Parsons, a Modern Matron for Respiratory Services at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) NHS Trust, administered the first vaccine outside of clinical trials to Margaret ‘Maggie’ Keenan on 8 December 2020.

In the East Midlands, Lincoln County Hospital delivered 150 vaccines on that historic first day. A video recording this momentous event for the region can be seen here.

Leanne Belton, the lead nurse who administered the vaccine at the hospital, said: “I had the

privilege of being able to administer the first COVID-19 vaccination in Lincolnshire. It really was a momentous occasion and was the start of the biggest rollout of a vaccine that this country has ever seen. It was the turning point in the pandemic. It provided my NHS colleagues and the whole nation with real hope and that feeling is something that I will remember forever.”

Two years on, the COVID vaccine has saved 112,000 lives and averted 24 million cases of COVID in the United Kingdom. Volunteers in the Midlands have contributed over 95,000 shifts to the vaccination programme, covering over 420 sites which equates to over 450,000 volunteer hours.

Over 315 sites have been used in the East Midlands including The Princess Royal Sports Arena, Boston; Derby Arena; the former Wickes store in Mansfield; Forest Recreation Ground in Nottingham; Lincolnshire Showground; Prajapati Hindu Community Centre in Leicester; Ikhlas Community Centre in Derby and The Peepul Centre in Leicester.

Roz Lindridge, the NHS England director responsible for overseeing the vaccination programme across the Midlands, said:

“Two years after the Midlands made history by delivering the first COVID jab in the world, the NHS in the region has now delivered a fantastic 27 million vaccinations. NHS staff, GPs, nurses and Pharmacists have worked tirelessly to protect the lives of millions of people and I would like to thank each and every one of them for the vital part they have played.

“We are deeply grateful to all the volunteers who stepped forward from all walks of life and played a pivotal role to help protect the most vulnerable. Over 1,000 people across the Midlands who joined the vaccination programme have decided to stay on in the health service in other roles, which was a huge boost to the region’s workforce.

“It remains important though that everyone eligible comes forward for the jab ahead of winter, when we expect COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses to be even more prevalent. Don’t let your festive celebrations be spoiled by illness. Come forward for your booster as soon as possible”.

Over 3 million people have benefited from the vital protection that the autumn booster provides since the latest phase of the campaign was launched on 12 September 2022. The booster offers protection against Omicron variants as well as the original COVID variants.

People aged 50 and over, the severely immunosuppressed and frontline health and care workers are still being urged to get vaccinated without delay ahead of a potential ‘twindemic’ of COVID-19 and flu this winter.

People can book their latest dose through the national booking system or by calling 119. You can also get a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine from a walk-in site without an appointment. People can find their nearest walk-in sites on the NHS website.