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  • Writer's pictureRichard Cree


Updated: Dec 9, 2020

UK COVID Deaths – Daily 616 / 7-Day average 426

Total UK COVID Deaths within 28 days – 62,033

Total UK Deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate – 73,125 (up to 27th Nov)

James Cook Hospital – Total COVID deaths – 361

All COVID cases within South Tees Hospitals Trust – 94

James Cook Critical Care

COVID cases – 14 (7 ventilated)

Non-COVID cases – 47 (17 ventilated)

I was vaccinated against COVID-19 today.

Along with many other hospitals around the country, James Cook got off to an early start, vaccinating their first patient shortly after half past seven this morning. One of the big lecture theatres in the Research, Education and Innovation Centre has been turned into a mass vaccination clinic. Those being vaccinated today included care home workers, patients over 80 years of age and some frontline colleagues. It’s quite an impressive operation and appears to be running very smoothly.

The first consignment of the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine arrived in the UK from Belgium a few days ago. It’s a refreshing change to have something come out of Belgium that is neither beer, chocolate or Brexit-related. Large quantities of the vaccine were distributed to certain hospitals around the UK in time for vaccinations to begin today. When this plan was initially announced, it looked as if Teesside had all but been forgotten Our hospital was conspicuously absent from a list of 53 that had been chosen. No nearby hospital was on the list either. This meant that Newcastle was the only vaccine hub located in the far north of the country.

To my surprise, my parents‘ local hospital in Worcestershire was included in this initial list of designated vaccine hubs. Quite why a hospital in the safe Tory heartland that is Worcestershire would have been chosen over one in Middlesbrough completely escapes me. However, it seems that I wasn’t the only person who thought that the North East had been sadly neglected; a revised list that included The James Cook Hospital was soon published.

The UK has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine - enough to vaccinate 20 million people. Other vaccines will be coming on line soon including the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine which today published the results from their Phase three vaccine trials. Phase three research trials represent the final, pre-production stage of a vaccine’s development. More than 20,000 volunteers took part. In those who received two standard doses, the vaccine efficacy was 62.1%. In those who received a low dose followed by a standard dose, the efficacy increased to 90.0%. The vaccine appears to be safe, with only one serious adverse event documented in those who received the vaccine. This participant subsequently recovered and is still taking part in the trial.

I was vaccinated today by Carmel, a Medical Technologist who normally works in the hospital’s Nuclear Medicine Department. My medical screening questionnaire was completed by Jeremy, who is one of my ICU Consultant colleagues. They are both part of a small army of volunteers who have come from every corner of the hospital to ensure that we can efficiently vaccinate as many people as possible.

To be honest, I barely felt a thing (thanks Carmel) and have no side effects to report. I was told that the most common complaints included arm-pain, headache and fatigue. Less common adverse effects include fever, muscle and/or joint pain. More severe side-effects seem to be very rare and include, according to the website, being ‘chipped’ and controlled by Bill Gates, and slowly turning into a troglodyte as the vaccine changes my DNA.

All joking aside, today really was a great day. This is the moment that many of us have been waiting for. Vaccination remains the only practical and effective way to bring this pandemic to a timely end. There is still a long way to go and we all need to continue to be careful but we are off to a cracking start. The end is beginning.

My vaccine card. I got a sticker but was hoping for a lollipop...

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