‘A New Beginning’: Relief, Hope as UK Begins Mass Vaccinations Against COVID | Voice of America

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LONDON – Scientists and doctors say the mass coronavirus vaccination campaign that kicked off in Britain this week represents a major milestone in the fight against COVID-19, although great challenges remain to produce and distribute enough vaccines to end the global pandemic.
Britain was the first country in the world to start coronavirus vaccination after regulators approved the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine last week.

Filipino nurse Leo Quijano, who works at Royal Sussex County Hospital in the southern town of Brighton, received the vaccine on Wednesday. She told VOA that she had full confidence in him.

“I feel more confident and secure because I once tested positive for COVID and was admitted to the hospital. There is extensive studies and research before the vaccine is released. So I feel positive about it, ”Quijano said.

Colleague Ashley Lecheminint works in the hospital’s food service department and also received the vaccine on Wednesday. “We are going to beat this coronavirus now,” Lecheminint said. “It will be like a new beginning.”

Many of those taking the vaccine are elderly or clinically vulnerable and have been self-isolating for several months. In all fifty vaccination clinics across Britain, there were scenes of emotion among staff and patients when the first injections were given on Tuesday. Among those who received the vaccine was 99-year-old World War II veteran Michael Tibbs.

“I am really very lucky,” Tibbs told reporters at a hospital near his home in Portsmouth. “I hope everyone will afford it and have it, because it’s really not a problem. And I think I’m very lucky.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock wiped away tears as he was interviewed on television on Tuesday. “After this year, which has been so terrible for so many people, and the sacrifices people have made and the losses we have all suffered. To have this moment leading the way is just fantastic, ”Hancock told ITV. Good Morning Britain programme.

Medical staff prepare to administer the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to recipients at a vaccination center in Cardiff, Wales, Great Britain, December 8, 2020.

However, British Chief Medical Officer Chris Witty issued a warning on Wednesday.

“I want to be very clear; for the next three months, we will not have sufficient protection. We are going through the most difficult time of the year for respiratory infections, ”Witty told a parliamentary committee.

Two health workers suffered from allergic reactions to the injection on Wednesday. Doctors said they both had a history of allergies and that was not unusual.

Britain says ‘no corner has been cut’ to endorse vaccine safety and that it is 95% effective in stopping COVID-19 disease. It is hoped that four million doses will be distributed before the end of the year. People over 80, health workers and nursing home staff are in the first place.

It is not yet known whether the vaccine only prevents COVID-19 disease or if it will also prevent transmission of the virus.

In photos: 1st COVID vaccines administered in Great Britain

The vaccination campaign, dubbed ‘V-Day’ by Health Secretary Mark Hancock, began nearly a week after the government’s medical regulatory agency granted emergency clearance

Across Britain, hospitals are still admitting thousands of COVID-19 patients – and hundreds still die every day. There are fears that public adherence to social distancing and lockdown rules may fall when the vaccination program begins.

The government also faces a challenge in convincing some people to get vaccinated. Recent polls suggest that half of Britons have security concerns and one in three might refuse it altogether.

Back in Brighton, nurse Leo Quijano told VOA she felt lucky to be getting the vaccine compared to those in her home country, the Philippines.

“Sometimes it’s only the privileged people who can have the vaccine in their homes – if you have the money, they can pay for it, or if the government plans it, you know, we don’t really know. That is why we hope that it will be accessible to all. ”

It is hoped that other promising vaccines will also be approved soon. Britain has gotten a head start and the government is hoping that life can get back to normal by spring.

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