Community NHS staff in Kent receive covid vaccinations

Vaccination programme

Community Respiratory Practitioner Helen Gremo was first to be vaccinated today (Monday, 28 December) as hundreds of frontline community NHS staff in Kent join colleagues from across the country in the nationwide vaccination programme.

Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT), which is delivering the programme at Aylesham, is also supporting the vaccination of care home workers too and staff from other NHS trusts.

Helen, a specialist respiratory practitioner who works at Whitstable and Tankerton Hospital was the first to receive her vaccine at Aylesham Health Centre when it opened its doors at 8am this morning to become part of the vaccination programme rollout.

Helen Gremo

She said: “For me, my priority is protecting patients. Working in a respiratory team, we have a responsibility to support the vaccination programme. If I can reduce my risk, it means I am protecting my patients and supporting colleagues as I am not going to be off work.’’

Having the vaccination may enable Discharge Manager Philippa Toy to rejoin her colleagues in the  team at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate. Philippa has not been able to work in the hospital since March because she has a respiratory condition that makes her high-risk, so she been working at home, but is desperate to return to support her colleagues.

Philippa Toy

Government advice is that NHS staff should be among the first to receive the vaccine and invites to staff will follow the categories set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), which means starting with patient-facing colleagues who are at highest risk first.

This is especially important in Kent due to high COVID-19 infection rates and spread of the new variant of the virus.

NHS colleagues are asked not to book a vaccination until they have received a letter inviting them to attend to be vaccinated. The Aylesham site joins those already up and running in Kent vaccinating people in priority groups recommended by the JCVI. The identified priority groups mean that anyone aged 80 and over is being vaccinated first followed by other groups, such as anyone aged 70 and over; this is to make sure those who are most vulnerable are supported as quickly as possible .

KCHFT’s Medical Director and Faversham GP Dr Sarah Phillips said she would urge everyone to have the vaccination when it was their turn in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus and to give the best possible chance to bring an end to the pandemic.

Vaccinations for community NHS staff

“I am so proud of the work the teams from Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust have done during the pandemic. Each and every one of them has put their life on hold in one way or another to do the very best for our patients, clients and service users.

“We know our patient-facing colleagues are more at risk of contracting Covid-19 in the course of their work and it’s a special day to watch the first of our staff, alongside our colleagues in care homes, come forward to be protected against the virus.

“The recent rise in cases and emergence of a new variant of the virus shows that we cannot let out guard down. As a GP, I will absolutely be having the vaccine when it is my turn and I am pleased to see so many people taking up the offer of the vaccine when invited. It’s safe, effective and offers us the best possible chance to bring an end to the pandemic.”


  1. I had to go to QEQM yesterday for a scan and was chatting to one of the staff and asked if she had yet had her first vaccination. She said no but she didn’t know if she would as QEQM staff have to go to Ashford and as she doesn’t drive, it would mean going on public transport and taking much of a day and she didn’t want to do that as she is a single mum and doesn’t see much of her child anyway. But point of this post is – how unfair that our hard working staff at QEQM have to waste so much of their limited free time going to Ashford for this vaccination. I know it has to be kept at a very low temperature, but surely there must be a way of bringing this vaccination from Ashford to QEQM once or twice a day and staff being vaccinated before or after their work shift. If it can be done locally for the elderly then our QEQM staff more than deserve it being local for them.

    • Let’s be positive.
      In a record time, several vaccines have been produced, and one is now being offered freely to vulnerable groups.
      In record time, logistics and distribution chains have been set up.
      That’s fantastically good news.
      It would be better if point of delivery was nearer. But: if you’d been told you’d won the Euromillians, but had to go to, say, Ashford, to pick up the cheque in person, you’d be off like a shot.

  2. The staff need to be vaccinated first to halt the spread of the virus. QEQM has been the source of the virus.
    I am afraid being positive only gets you so far. There is little point in vaccinating 8o year olds if the NHS staff and Care home staff are off sick with Covid or passing on the virus to 70,60 year olds, and those with impaired immune systems.
    The trust is badly run, far too big, and centred on Ashford.
    Ashford is not East Kent or central to anything.
    Even if public transport was running well, the Wm Harvey is badly connected.
    In 2021 health care in East Kent needs a thorough sorting out.
    At the present rate it will take over two years to vaccinate everyone. My guess all hinges on the availability of the Astra Zeneca vaccine because its is cheaper and easier to use.

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