Guy's and St Thomas' marks a year of vaccine "hope"

Wednesday 8 December 2021

Lyn Wheeler outside the vaccination centre at Guy's Hospital

Guy’s and St Thomas’ has now given over 775,000 jabs to more than 450,000 people since the UK’s COVID-19 vaccination programme started a year ago.

That’s equivalent to more than five Wembley Stadiums full of people, ranging in age from 12 to 105 years old.

From the first vaccine centre which was set up in Guy’s Hospital on 8 December 2020 to administer a few hundred Pfizer vaccinations a day, the trust now has six temporary centres across Guy’s Hospital and St Thomas’ Hospital, covering a total of 1,300m2.

Each centre delivers up to 1,200 vaccinations a day and between them administer three different vaccines - Pfizer-BioNTech, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Moderna.

If all the vials of vaccines the trust has delivered were lined up next to each other, they would stretch the 4km along the Thames path from St Thomas’ Hospital at Westminster Bridge to Guy’s hospital by London Bridge.

The Trust’s pharmacy teams have made more than 12,000 deliveries of vaccines to the centres, covering more than six million steps or more than 100 marathons.

The first person to have her vaccination at Guy’s Hospital was Lyn Wheeler.
Lyn, 82, from Bromley, said: “The vaccines gave me hope, particularly a year ago when there was desperation. Older people were being isolated from everything and it was a very hard time. We couldn’t carry on like that. We were afraid, and we had to fight back.

“I’ve had my three vaccines now – they’ve given me the confidence to go out again to see my family, go to church, see the children in the school where I work and volunteer at COVID and flu vaccination sessions - always carefully, of course.”

Well-known names who have said they were among the nearly half-a-million people vaccinated at Guy’s and St Thomas’ include Prime Minster Boris Johnson, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Santa Claus, author and talent agent Michael Whitehall and TV presenter Susanna Reid.

The Trust has also provided specialist vaccination support across south east London:

  • Vaccinating children and adults in 24 schools;
  • Providing outreach clinics for 300 people who are homeless or seeking asylum, working with the Trust’s Homeless Inclusion Team;
  • Supporting people with learning difficulties, allergies, respiratory conditions and children with neuro-disabilities to be vaccinated.

Jo Turville, Director of Operations, leads the vaccine programme at Guy’s and St Thomas’.

She said: “It has been a privilege to have been part of such a significant public health programme – the biggest in the history of the NHS.

“I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved at Guy’s and St Thomas completing over 775,000 vaccines’. It has been an extraordinary effort involving thousands of people from across the trust and beyond, all working with the one goal of keeping people safe.”

The roll-out of the vaccination programme involved a recruitment and redeployment programme to hire and train the staff needed to run the centres, up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

Many vaccinators transferred from previous careers which were put on hold during the pandemic such as airline cabin crew, gym and theatre staff.

Kazeem Reaves Odunsi managed a gym before the pandemic started. He has been working in the vaccine centres at Guy’s and St Thomas’ since January 2021 and has vaccinated nearly 6,000 people.

He said: “One of the best things about being a vaccinator is getting to meet people from different cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds.

"By giving someone the vaccine I'm helping to improve their quality of life and bring an end to the pandemic. I'm part of history now and it will be with me for the rest of my life."

Last updated: December 2021

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