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SPONSORED: Vaccines vital to defeat COVID-19

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A multi-million pound vaccine programme is being rolled out at a fast rate across the UK with over ten million people having already been immunised. We focus on how jabs are being distributed and the many people working together to ensure everyone receives the vital vaccine.

After becoming the world’s first country to approve a vaccine for use, the UK Government has bought jabs on behalf of all the UK, distributing them around England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. The government has invested over £300 million in securing and scaling up the UK’s manufacturing capabilities to be able to respond to this pandemic.

We already have several authorised vaccines combating COVID-19 … more than any other country in the world. The priority is to save as many lives as possible, as quickly as possible, while also reducing hospitalisations that create pressure on the NHS.

The UK is vaccinating more than double the rate per person per day than any other country in Europe. This success has been made possible by many people from the scientists developing the vaccine and forces personnel setting up vaccination centres to delivery drivers and remote doctors vaccinating the elderly within their community, all working together across the whole nation. Vaccination is the best way to protect people from coronavirus and is the best route back to normality.

The vital vaccine works by teaching your immune system how to defend itself against viral attack.

‘Essential to beat the bug’ – Prof Saul Faust, England

The vaccine rollout is proving “brilliant”, confirms Professor Saul Faust, director of NIHR Southampton Clinical Research Facility, University of Southampton.

During this pandemic he is focusing on delivering COVID-19 Janssen vaccine trials, stressing the jabs are “absolutely essential” in beating the bug.

“Without the vaccine and NHS deployment, we will not be able to prevent further waves and impact on the NHS. Even if the infection becomes a condition like ‘flu, the vaccine will stop people dying and most people becoming so ill they have to go to hospital,” he assured.

Urging everyone to have the vaccine, and not worry about delay between doses, he added: “The vaccination programme is being rolled out in the way that is best for the UK population to try to ease pressure on the NHS and stop people dying.

“It is better to give one dose to more people and then top it up.”

‘I’m desperate to do my bit’ – Lt Cdr Ruth Fleming, Wales

“Really proud to do her bit” is a mum of two involved in the UK’s largest peacetime operation to support the UK Government’s COVID-19 response.

Swansea University scientist by day, Royal Navy reservist Ruth Fleming is key to vaccine roll-out as part of Operation Rescript.

“I was desperate to do my bit. We had a chat about it and, despite having two young kids, knew my husband would support me,” said the 46 year old, whose furloughed husband Nick, 52, remote teaches their seven year-old son and daughter, aged four.

“I was working really long hours,” explained Ruth, the Joint Military Command Wales Operations Officer.

“Each of the vaccines have got different requirements around how they can be distributed and utilised, as well as who can give the vaccine, and the training required.”

She added: “I will be at the front of the queue as soon as I get the opportunity to get the vaccine myself.”

‘Vaccine is safe and effective’ – CFO David Lawrence, Scotland

A finance chief’s work developing a unique vaccine in Scotland is enriched by “phenomenal” public support. Working daily with the vaccine task force, father of two David Lawrence leads discussions with the UK Government around manufacture and roll-out of his biotech company’s “inactivated adjuvante”

COVID-19 vaccine that saw Livingston-based Valneva “take a different approach”.

He commented: “We’ll ensure absolutely we’ve got a safe and effective vaccine. I think people should feel very encouraged. They should be very confident the safety profile will be absolutely fine.”

The CFO’s 14 year-old daughter Sophie is remote learning while son Cameron, 18, is a university student.

“In terms of the support from my family and friends, it’s been phenomenal,” he said.

“You see neighbours and they say ‘great job, keep up the good work’ and that’s all very supportive.

“I feel very blessed to be involved, being some sort of partner in the overall solution.”

‘We really need unsung heroes’ – Nursing Director Deirdre Webb, Northern Ireland

Porters, cleaners and drivers are among “unsung heroes” according to someone at the sharp end of the vaccine rollout.

“They deliver everything to us and help with the logistics of the operation. They’ve done a massive job and we really need them,” confirmed Public Health Agency Northern Ireland Director of Nursing Deirdre Webb.

“Then we have a huge volunteer workforce helping people get to clinics. They are all the unsung heroes of this,” added the Belfast 57 year-old.

“We hope to see promising results in the springtime. We have small teams helping to deliver the vaccine in patient’s homes.

“Then vaccinations are also being given at GP surgeries and mass vaccination centres.”

“Everyone has been so enthusiastic and very keen to help out,” continued Deirdre, herself set to be trained as a vaccinator.

“I’ve been in nursing for 40 years and this has been the biggest vaccination programme I’ve ever been involved with.’’