Doctor to become one of first in world to receive COVID jab – ‘proud to do my duty’

Coronavirus vaccine distribution is ‘chaos’ says professor

Dr Hari Shukla, 87, and wife Ranjan, 83, were due to receive their jabs this morning at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary as the world-leading NHS rollout gets underway. He said: “I’m so pleased we are hopefully coming towards the end of this pandemic and I am delighted to be doing my bit by having the vaccine. I feel it is my duty to do so and do whatever I can to help.” Ugandan-born Hari is a well-loved local hero and lifelong campaigner for race relations in Newcastle. In 2015, he was presented with a CBE by Princess Anne for his services to the community. His many honours also include an OBE. Hari said receiving the vaccine would be a “big relief” and expressed his gratitude to and pride in those working hard to deliver the programme.

He added: “It will be the start of beginning to feel normal again. The work that the NHS has done to get this in place is marvellous.”

Ranjan said: “When he had the call to come in, I said, ‘What about me?’ They then said I could come too. We can’t wait to do it.”

The couple, from Tyne and Wear, will receive the first of two required jabs today. Hari, who still works as a race relations champion in the North East, said: “After 21 days I will be back in for the booster. I would say go ahead and get vaccinated. It is very, very important for all of us.”

NHS staff have worked around the clock since the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine received the green light from regulators last week.

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Patients aged over 80, care-home staff and some high-risk NHS workers will be the first to receive the vaccine at more than 50 hospital hubs.

Boris Johnson said: “Today marks a huge step forward in the UK’s fight against ­coronavirus, as we begin delivering the ­vaccine to the first patients across the 
whole country.

“I am immensely proud of the scientists who developed the vaccine, members of the public who took part in trials, and the NHS who have worked tirelessly to prepare for rollout. But mass vaccination will take time, and we must remain clear-eyed about the challenges that remain.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We will look back on today, V-day, as a key moment in our fight back against this terrible disease, and I am proud our health services across the United Kingdom are about to embark on our largest ever vaccination programme.

“Now’s the time to sit tight and remain patient until you get notified by the NHS that it’s time for your vaccination. We can see light at the end of the tunnel but still have a long way to go.”

A number of GP-led local centres will start offering jabs next week before more practices join in phases throughout December.

As further supplies become available large centres in sporting venues and conference centres will also open.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said this was the biggest immunisation programme in the service’s history.

He added: “The deployment of this vaccine marks a decisive turning point in the battle with the pandemic. NHS vaccination programmes which have successfully helped overcome tuberculosis, polio and smallpox, now turn their focus to coronavirus.

“NHS staff are proud to be leading the way as the first health service in the world to begin vaccination with this Covid jab.”

Health chiefs have warned the vaccine rollout will be a marathon, not a sprint, and there will be no instant return to ­normal life.

 A further 189 people have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of yesterday.

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