First covid vaccination given at William Harvey Hospital

Kenneth Lamb receiving the vaccine (Photo EKHUFT)

The William Harvey Hospital in Ashford begins vaccinating patients against coronavirus today (December 8), as the biggest immunisation programme in history gets underway.

The hospital is one of 50 hubs to start vaccinations for people aged 80 and over as well as care home workers and NHS workers who are at higher risk.

Eighty-year-old great-granddad Kenneth Lamb, from New Romney, was the first patient to receive the vaccine at William Harvey Hospital this morning.

Kenneth, who has 10 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter, said: “I couldn’t believe it when they phoned to say I could have the vaccine – but I didn’t have to think twice about it.

“We have been staying at home for most of the pandemic, only really going out for shopping. My great-granddaughter Rosie is six months old and we’ve only seen her on video call – I haven’t been able to give her a cuddle and I’m really looking forward to being able to do that.

“I have the flu jab every year so this is the same as that. It makes sense to me to have it.”


Ivy Smith, 97, also had her #CovidVaccine this morning at WHH.

She said: “They called me yesterday and I was quite excited about it. I cook for myself and look after myself so I want to stay well so I can carry on staying at home.

“This is the first time I have been out since March and it’s to a hospital but I don’t mind because it means I can have the vaccine.

“I think I’m the oldest person having it today but I’m young at heart.”

Since the Pfizer vaccine was approved by regulators last week, health service staff have been working around the clock to manage the logistical challenge of deploying the vaccine.

The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at -70C before being thawed out and can only be moved four times within that cold chain before being used.

Susan Acott, Chief Executive of East Kent Hospitals, said: “This is a truly momentous day. Staff from East Kent Hospitals have worked extremely hard to prepare for the launch today and I want to pay tribute to them.

“We are privileged to be able play a part in delivering this life-saving vaccine.”

The hospital is contacting people directly to invite them to have the jab, which is typically delivered by a simple injection in the shoulder.

GPs and other primary care staff are also preparing to start delivering the vaccine. A number of GP-led primary care networks will begin this next week with others joining in on a phased basis during December.

While today represents a milestone in the response to Covid, Kent and Medway remains under Tier 3 restrictions due to high infection rates across many parts of the county.

Dr Navin Kumta, Ashford GP and clinical chair of Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The vaccine is the long term game changer. But everyone will need two doses given about a month apart. So right now we still need to continue to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus.

“It’s critical that anyone with symptoms self-isolates; along with everyone in their household.

“We all need to keep washing our hands regularly and properly; wearing masks and keeping two metres from others wherever possible.”


    • Today is the first day, if you listen to the news, it is going to be shipped out to GP surgery’s, so we won’t have to to Ashford!

    • ALL of Kent is in Tier 3. It will be distributed more widely soon, just be patient (I don’t drive either).

    • Brian, do you know of any doctors surgeries or pharmacies in Thanet that have the ability to store it at minus 70 degrees? Not very likely is it?

      • It doesn’t have to be stored at minus 70 when it has been shipped out. Is stable at normal fridge temperature for five days.

      • It will taken from Hospital storage directly to GP surgeries on the day of use for use that day. . .?there is infact a 12 hour window for it to be used!

          • Cannot find much apart from the NI head of vaccines stating that, she also states that due to the size of the packets 7 that they have to be used in that period it is fairly impractical for GP use as a result & so mass injection ‘hubs’ are the best option. I highly doubt whatever the reality that you will be able to walk into the Limes, Bethesda etc & get it at any point in the near future.

  1. I guessed as much.It was inevitable that this would happen.Watch out for the row, when the trust insists on everyone going to Ashford.
    As far as this trust is concerned East Kent is Ashford.
    Its good news that vaccination is going ahead, but don’t expect a competent,swift, well administered vaccination program down here.

    • I would have thought given that Thanet is the forth highest district in the country with the virus, it would be more sensible to start vaccinating everyone here first!

  2. I have full confidence in my local surgery in Westgate, the best one I’ve ever belonged to (I even got the flu vaccine in mid-September, unlike my elderly and asthmatic mother in Herne Bay who had to wait until last week!).

  3. Well done Ivy. I wonder if Ivy lives near to the hospital or did they supply transport to her. It’s not going to be easy for all the most older ones in the area to travel to WHH. Having said that I am excited that it’s now being given out.
    Well done to all who made it possible.

    • They’re going to (eventually) come out to local people’s homes, just like they did for my mother’s flu vaccination. Before that it will be available from local surgeries and/or specially created vaccination hubs.

  4. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that vaccinations will be available locally, sooner than later: most elderly people are not able to travel miles across the county (twice) to get inoculated.
    Anyway, you doom mongers don’t want the jab, so it won’t matter.

    • Think you will find it is not doom mongering, but justifiable concern. It doesn’t matter whether we want it or not anyway-as most of us probably don’t fit the criteria for it anyway-under 50, not NHS staff, not ticking the right health conditions boxes etc.

      If we do get offered it then likely it will be the summer at the earliest-at which point we will have a better idea of the potential long-term side effects from all the guinea pigs who are lining up for it now & can then make a somewhat informed call.

      • If I was a decade younger I probably wouldn’t want it, but as I’m just a couple of years away from 60 & on medication following a heart attack 2 years ago, it’s probably wise that I do. Having said that, I almost certainly had Covid earlier in the year, and, after a few sweaty and sleepless nights with a non-stop barking cough, I fully recovered within a week.

        • I suspect I might have had it as well-I do have a long history of coming down with bugs/chest infections in the cold weather & February & March I had a total stinker. Not the worst I have had, but certainly in the top tier. Eventually after several weeks I bought a humidifier to help me sleep.

  5. Peels onion-damn it isn’t working, blub-drat, nothing is coming out, it makes me so proud to see William Shakespeare & all these wonderful plebians, sorry people doing this so we can all get on with our lives, blub. It makes you proud to be British-do we have Rule Britannia & a flag I can wave? Do I win an Olivier for this performance? A Golden Raspberry award you say?

  6. Didn’t take long-once again the problem of rushed vaccines, relying on the word of the people making the vaccine & conducting the trials interested only in profit, with no peer review & everybody being vigorously encouraged to take them-now it transpires many people should not be taking them, but that is only said after the fact. Obviously there were no questions asked of any recipients as to whether they have a history of various allergic reactions.

    People With ‘Significant History’ Of Allergic Reactions Shouldn’t Have Covid Vaccine, Says MHRA

    The UK’s medicines regulator has advised people with a “significant history” of allergic reactions not to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine.

    It comes after two NHS workers who received the jab on Tuesday – the first day of the mass vaccination programme – suffered an allergic reaction. Both of the people are “recovering well”, NHS England officials said.

    The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has given precautionary advice to NHS trusts that anyone who has a history of “significant” allergic reactions to medicines, food or vaccines should not receive the vaccine.

    In the US vaccine trial carried out by Pfizer, 137 out of around 19,000 people given vaccine had a reaction

    Of course there have been comments from some of those involved in the trials of side effects such as arm swelling that the media, government etc have not reported on-some of them said they felt scared to come forward against these giant companies.

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