The head of the NHS visited Oxford Health’s covid vaccination centre at the Kassam Stadium today to witness first hand the success of the delivery of the life-saving Covid jab.
Sir Simon Stevens’ visit marked an NHS milestone in vaccinating 15 million people and a new phase of the vaccination programme, with people aged 65 and over together with an expanded group of clinically vulnerable people now able to receive their first dose.
He arrived at the Oxford Vaccination Centre to meet a range of staff including Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive Dr Nick Broughton and Covid Operations Director Tehmeena Ajmal.
The NHS vaccination programme is the biggest in the health service’s history and chief executive Sir Simon Stevens praised the “extraordinary” efforts of GPs, nurses, pharmacists, volunteers and thousands of others in protecting millions of people in just 10 weeks.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said: “Hitting this milestone just 10 weeks after the NHS made history by delivering the first Covid vaccination outside of a clinical trial is a remarkable shared achievement.
“The NHS vaccination programme is the biggest and fastest in Europe – and in the health service’s history – and that is down to the skill, care, and downright hard work of our fantastic staff, supported by local communities, volunteers and the armed forces.
“On behalf of the whole country it’s right to mark this successful first phase with a huge thank you to everyone involved in this extraordinary team effort.”
Oxford Health is the lead provider for vaccination centres across Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Berkshire West.
Nick Broughton commented: “It was great honour to talk with Sir Simon about the success of our vaccination centre and its potential in the coming months to vaccinate up to 3,000 people a day with the Oxford vaccine. And it was also a pleasure to meet some of the public receiving their jabs and hear why the vaccine is so important to them and their families.”
During the visit Sir Simon met with Professor Andrew Pollard, the Director of the Oxford Vaccine Group whose team developed the Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine being used at the Kassam.
He also witnessed Prof Pollard administer the vaccine to Penny Thewlis, the 67-year-old chief executive of Age UK Oxfordshire which works with and supports older adults across the county. Her organisation has also played a pivotal role in supporting the NHS in recent months.
Penny said: “It was wonderful to meet Sir Simon and to receive my vaccine from Professor Pollard was just the icing on the cake. Receiving the vaccine was quick and painless and it means in a few short days I will have protection against Covid-19 which has destroyed so many lives in the past year.
“I would like to pay tribute to the team at Oxford Health for their dedication and care. Age UK Oxfordshire was able to have several of our front line team vaccinated today who all work and deliver care to older people. Having the vaccine will make such a difference to them and those we support.”
Imam Monawar Hussein MBE, the Muslim Chaplain to Oxford University Hospitals Trust, was also at the Kassam to meet Sir Simon and to talk about the outreach work he has been carrying out to engage with the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities in Oxfordshire.
He has produced a range of videos on Covid vaccinations in different languages, sharing them widely through NHS organisations and on social media, to raise awareness of the vaccines’ safety and efficacy.