People in Blackpool and Lytham were today among the first in the country to receive a COVID-19 vaccination outside of hospital.
Blackpool resident Brian Marshall was first in line for the vaccine at a surgery in the town, while David Bradbury received the first injection in Lytham.
The two sites are the first on the Fylde Coast to start inviting people in to receive their vaccinations in primary care with more sites set to be up and running in the coming weeks.
Mr Marshall, 87, said: “I am really pleased to be getting the vaccine and have very much been looking forward to it.
“It was all very straight forward and I didn’t feel a thing.”
And retired engineer Mr Bradbury, a grandfather of two, said: “It has been a difficult year for lots of people so it’s good that we are able to get this vaccination.”
Practices have worked hard to organise the vaccinations programme, with rooms being set up specially and staff being coordinated to give the injections.
Dr Ruth Mason, a Lytham GP, is part of the team on the Fylde Coast who will give almost 2,000 injections this week.
She said: “We are delighted to be able to start offering the vaccine to patients across the region as we finally reach a point where the end to this pandemic is in sight.
“I would urge everyone who is contacted to come along and receive their vaccination. It is safe and well tolerated in the vast majority of patients and should provide good immunity to coronavirus.
“A great deal of work has also gone into arranging our buildings so they are safe for people to attend and there is plenty of room for social distancing while they wait to receive their vaccination.”
Martin Bach, 81, was also pleased to receive a vaccination this morning. He said: “I have been looking forward to having the vaccine since it was announced it would be given. It is a possible life-saver and it’s not just likely to save my life but it may save other people’s lives, and that’s what’s important.”
And Peter Gledhill, 83, said he didn’t feel a thing. He said: “It was that good that she had actually done the vaccination before I even knew it. I didn’t feel a thing.
“I have chosen to have it to make sure I don’t get the virus and to make sure I don’t give it to anyone else were I to have it. I wouldn’t hesitate in telling anyone to have this done. It’s as easy as pie.”
Jane Scattergood, director of nursing and quality at NHS Blackpool and NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said: “We are at the start of what will be the largest vaccination programme in our history and local teams are working hard to put arrangements in place to allow us to start protecting the most vulnerable people in our communities.
“In this first stage of vaccination, those with the highest risk are being invited first. These are people aged 80 and over as well as care home workers and NHS workers who are at higher risk.
“We’d remind the public to please not contact the NHS to try and get a vaccine, we will contact you to arrange an appointment.”