IN A massive combined feat of organisation and effort, staff and volunteers are pulling together to roll out the Covid-19 vaccinations as quickly as possible at the Windrush Medical Practice in Witney.

More than 7,000 people have now received their jabs since December 21.

Since February 8, the clinicians began vaccinating the over-65s.

The Windrush is the vaccine hub for Pfizer inoculations for the five surgeries in the Eynsham and Witney Primary Care Network (PCN) – the Windrush, the Nuffield and Cogges health centres in Witney – and the Eynsham and Long Hanborough medical practices.

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“We are all very tired, but morale is good,” said Dr Stephen Smith, senior partner at the Windrush, and clinical vaccine lead for the Eynsham and Witney PCN.

“The doctors and staff all passionately believe this is what’s best for the community.

“The more vaccines we get, the quicker we can get people immunised.

“Our staff are all working long hours and going above and beyond to make sure we get the vaccine out there.

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“They are in at weekends making the calls to invite people to come for their jabs – most of us are working six or seven days a week, and often 12-hour days.

“But we aren’t halfway through our lists yet – there’s some battle fatigue, but we will keep on going.

“It’s a privilege to be involved in the roll-out of the Covid vaccine.

“It’s historic, and something we will all tell our kids about in years to come.”

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The Pfizer vaccine presents particular challenges in that it has a lifespan of either three, four or five days, whereas the University of Oxford AstraZeneca jab lasts six months.

There are also the logistical demands of guiding as many as 1,100 patients through the Windrush practice and vaccinating them during a full day’s clinic, particularly as, with Pfizer, the recipients must wait 15 minutes after their jab to ensure they have no immediate adverse reaction.

“We don’t know the lifespan or amount of the vaccine we’ll receive in advance, but with less than a week’s notice we need to invite around a thousand patients per day to attend for their jabs to ensure we use all the doses – we don’t want to waste a single dose,” Dr Smith said.

Hattie Clay, practice manager at the Windrush, praised the work of volunteers.

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She said: “Our volunteers go round chatting with patients and making sure they are okay.

“There are ten volunteer marshals at each session to help organise the queue and the clinic – and they are just fantastic and so committed, turning out in awful, freezing weather and staying late.

“They provide extra pairs of eyes for us, observing, keeping the queue flowing and dealing with queries.”

Volunteer marshal Douglas Cantley, 33, who is currently furloughed from his sales job, has enjoyed his shifts at the Windrush vaccine clinics.

“I like helping and chatting to everyone,” he said.

“Lots of people haven’t been outside their homes for nine months or more, but they are really upbeat.”