Thistlemoor Medical Centre on Thistlemoor Road in the city centre began their rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine yesterday (January 14).
The vaccine can be safely stored in fridges at between 2 and 8C once taken out of deep freeze but the batch must then be used within three and a half days. The surgery has taken delivery of specific fridges to store the vaccine in but these are similar to those used to house the flu vaccine given out every year. Yesterday was spent vaccinating NHS staff and today (January 15) was the first day of the roll out to the general population in the most at risk category, those over the age of 80 or with underlying health conditions. Around 200 vaccines were administered before 1pm, with plans for the same amount in the afternoon. Within 10 days, they estimate to have given out 3000 vaccinations.
These are taking place in a series of large cabins, given emergency planning permission by Peterborough City Council, next to the practice and are being given out by staff from both Central Medical Centre and Thistlemoor. who have come together to best serve their communities.
For many, the opportunity to be given a vaccination in such unprecedented times comes with a sense of relief and joy and GP Partner at Thistlemoor Dr Neil Modha has confirmed that has been the overall feeling in the centre.
Dr Modha said: “Our patients have been amazing, as well as patient and understanding. The mood in the room has been so jovial, there has been more laughter than anything and lots of good conversation.
“They’re also telling us that they are so relieved to be getting the vaccination and our staff are so glad to be helping person after person.
“Helping our community is really important to us and my staff today have been a great support.
“I’ve had assistants that are fluent in Polish and Russian, which has been a big help in talking to patients who perhaps don’t speak English as well through the process.”
The patients seen today will be invited back in 12 weeks for their second dose, which will give them the full protection on offer from the vaccine, but the surgery will continue on with the demanding program.
Dr Modha added: “Nothing about our normal service has changed, we are still offering help over the phone, through the internet and we are still supporting our long term patients.
“What we ask for from our patients is some good will as we are continuing to provide all of this alongside carrying out these vaccinations.”
“I think in general a bit of tolerance is required with our NHS services. We all know the NHS is not functioning as efficiently as we would all like it to at the moment but we must all pull together during this difficult time and help things run as best as we can.”