ELDERLY patients at Colchester Hospital will be amongst the first in the world to get a coronavirus vaccine when jabs begin to be administered tomorrow.

The hospital, run by the East Suffolk and North Essex Trust, has been chosen as one of 53 across the UK to take part in the first round of distribution of the BioNTech and Pfizer vaccine, which is believed to be 95 per cent effective against Covid-19.

Britain is the first country to approve the vaccine and an initial round of 400,000 patients will be vaccinated in the UK over the coming weeks.

From tomorrow, residents over the age of 80 who are already attending Colchester Hospital as outpatients, as well as those being discharged home after a stay at Colchester Hospital, will receive the vaccine.

Colchester Hospital will also invite people aged over 80 in the area for a jab and will work with care home providers to book in staff for vaccinations.

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

Once the first jab has been administered, residents will have to book a second one in three weeks.

The trust says it has chosen Colchester Hospital to administer the first vaccines as Ipswich does not yet have the facilities to store the drug at the temperature required - minus 70 degrees.

NHS England has also put GPs and other primary care staff on standby to start delivering the jab more widely.

Once further streams of the vaccine become available, vaccination centres will be created at sports venues and conference centres to help with mass rollout.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said yesterday: “This coming week will be an historic moment as we begin vaccination against Covid-19.

“We are prioritising the most vulnerable first and over-80s, care home staff and NHS colleagues will all be among the first to receive the vaccines.

“We are doing everything we can to make sure we can overcome significant challenges to vaccinate care home residents as soon as possible too.

“I urge everybody to play their part to suppress this virus and follow the local restrictions to protect the NHS while they carry out this crucial work.”

Dr Angela Tillett, chief medical officer at the East Suffolk and North Essex Trust, added: “We are very pleased to start the vaccination programme and support the wider rollout to our communities in Suffolk and North Essex.”

Public Health England has published a new information booklet explaining the vaccine.

It warns of some “mild and short term” side effects from the jab, including arm pain, tiredness, headaches, general aches and mild, flu-like symptoms.

Residents cannot catch Covid-19 from having the vaccine, but it does warn some could find out they have the virus after their appointment.

People who receive the coronavirus vaccine will be given a card to show others they have had the vaccine and remind them to get the second dose.

Colchester’s coronavirus infection rate now sits at 85.8 cases per 100,000 people after 167 cases were confirmed between November 24 and December 1.

The rate in the town is almost half the Essex average of 155 cases per 100,000 people and almost a quarter of Basildon’s - 347.2 cases per 100,000 people.

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