George Dyer, 90, from Norbury, is first South Londoner to get the Covid-19 vaccine

A retired butcher from Croydon and long standing NHS volunteer has become one of the first in London to get the COVID-19 vaccine as the NHS begins the roll out of its largest ever vaccination programme.

George Dyer, aged 90 from Norbury, received the injection at Croydon University Hospital just after 7am this morning, making him one of the first in the world to be vaccinated against Coronavirus.

Hundreds of other residents aged 80 and over will then follow in his footsteps, alongside care home workers and NHS staff at higher risk.

George received a round of applause from NHS staff at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust this morning following his vaccination.

He said afterwards: “Covid-19 is a terrible thing and I feel very lucky that I can now get this vaccine to keep the virus away. It’s like I’m about to be given a new lease of life and I cannot wait to get back out there and make myself useful again.”

The former butcher has been an NHS volunteer at Croydon University Hospital for the past 16 years, regularly helping patients and welcoming visitors to the trust.

“I’ve missed my friends and family terribly,” George said, “I’ve just not left the house. I watched the news and could see my friends in the hospital working harder than they ever have to care for people with this virus. I’ve felt helpless, but I’ve had to be sensible so I’ve stayed put. Now it feels like I can get my life back.”

More than 400,000 people are expected to be protected from Covid-19 as the first wave of 50 hospital hubs open across the country this week.

Matthew Kershaw, chief executive of Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, said: “I’m incredibly proud of the role that our NHS staff here in Croydon have played in treating people throughout the pandemic and now in vaccinating the most vulnerable people in our communities and ensuring the safety of our patients, our local people and our health and care professionals.

“We need to make sure that the most vulnerable people get it first, so the NHS will be advising people in priority groups when it’s the right time for them to come forward for the vaccine.

“In the meantime, we’re asking the public to continue to abide by all the social distancing and hand hygiene guidance, which will still save lives.”

In line with the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), the phased vaccination programme will see patients aged 80 and above who are already attending hospital as an outpatient, and those who are being discharged home after a hospital stay, among the first to receive the life-saving jab.

Care home providers are also being asked by the Department of Health and Social Care to begin booking staff in to vaccination clinics. GPs are also expected to be able to begin vaccinating care home residents.

Any appointments not used for these groups will be used for healthcare workers who are at highest risk of serious illness from Covid-19.

Health chiefs have set out how they will deliver the mammoth task ahead, using hospital hubs, vaccination centres and other community locations as well as GP practices and pharmacies.

The life-saving vaccine is typically delivered by a simple injection in the shoulder but there is a complex logistical challenge to deliver from the manufacturers to patients. It needs to be stored at -70C before being thawed out and can only be moved four times within that cold chain ahead of use.

To find out more about the Covid-19 vaccine, click here.

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