Worksop dad with chronic asthma vows to keep wearing mask as vaccine rolls out

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A Worksop dad with chronic asthma who was given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at Larwood Surgery this week says he will keep wearing his mask ‘until everyone is safe’.

Graham Easby, 56, who received the jab on Monday after receiving a text a few days earlier, told how his wife was ‘over the moon’ when he got the news.

During the height of the pandemic Graham and wife Debbie - an occupational nurse for a food manufacturer - were forced to sleep in different rooms and eat on opposite sides of the dinner table.

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Though Graham admits feeling relieved to have been given the first of the two injections and as an extremely vulnerable patient he is exempt from wearing a mask, he says he will continue to wear one in public.

Graham Easby with wife DebbieGraham Easby with wife Debbie
Graham Easby with wife Debbie

He said: “I still have to be careful not to pass it on - until everyone has had this injection no-one is safe from anyone.

“I’m exempt from wearing a mask but while I was at the surgery having the vaccine I kept it on because I thought it would be safer for everyone.”

Bassetlaw was one of the first districts in the county and one of the first in the country to administer the vaccine in a community setting - with Larwood and Bawtry NHS Covid-19 Local Vaccination Service beginning on December 22.

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Graham told how on Monday the car park at the surgery was full as he was directed into one of two rooms set aside for the rollout at Kilton Forest Community Centre, next door.

Graham Easby, pictured with wife Debbie, received the jab on MondayGraham Easby, pictured with wife Debbie, received the jab on Monday
Graham Easby, pictured with wife Debbie, received the jab on Monday

After queuing with others he was directed to a stand inside one of the halls where he waited - before answering a number of health-check questions.

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Following the injection he was asked to wait for 15 minutes for an observational safety check before leaving.

Logistics manager Graham understands the first jab will give him a 52 per cent immunity to the virus - which will increase to 95 per cent with the second jab.

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He said: “Even after the second jab, there’s still that five per cent chance I could suffer the worst effects.

“I’ve got a really good level of protection but I’m still going to shield.”

As well as the Larwood hub two others are in place in Bassetlaw at Newgate Street Health Centre and Retford Hospital - which began vaccinations on Saturday.

However some say the deployment could be sped-up by using larger community venues or even car parks in the district.

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Nigel Turner, manager at North Notts Arena, said: “It doesn’t make sense to me using all these GP surgeries that still have to care for other conditions when you could have this all under one roof.”

Bassetlaw District Council leader Simon Greaves believes the Government needs to do more to ensure enough supplies of the vaccine are available - enabling councils to make public spaces available for a quicker delivery.

He said: “We’re not going to get out of this crisis unless there’s a ratcheting-up of deployment.

“We’re in a race against time to get the economy moving again and I strongly feel the Government needs to ensure there’s sufficient vaccines to enable the ramping up of this programme.

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“I know our local public health bodies are doing everything they can to ensure they get the deployment right first time - but I believe the scale of this programme is linked to supply in the system.”

Simon told how he had made it ‘very clear’ there were a number of public spaces in Bassetlaw which could be used to deliver the jab.

He said: “I fundamentally believe there has to be sufficient vaccine available to ensure other venues can come online – we want to ensure we get the whole district vaccinated as quickly as possible but that’s going to mean a change of strategy.

The leader has launched a petition calling for the the Government to ‘cut red tape’ and support mass vaccinations - calling specifically for mass community vaccinations in Bassetlaw.

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In a public briefing Nottinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) described the rollout as ‘an extremely complex process which will take months to be fully complete’.

Saying those at highest risk and those delivering care to them were the first priority the briefing read: “We understand people are keen to see their family get the vaccine as soon as possible to protect them from getting seriously ill and this has, in some cases, led to questions and queries about why some people have been vaccinated and others have not yet been contacted.

“This is the largest mass vaccination programme ever undertaken and the roll out is an extremely complex process and will take months to be fully complete.”

In the briefing the CCG say residents will be contacted in line with the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation priority list - which initially targets over-80s, care

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home residents and staff and front-line health and care workers.

It adds: “People will not be able to access a vaccine by turning up without an appointment.”

The note further reads: “People will be contacted in due course to make an appointment – please do not to contact the NHS, GP or local hospital hub as this only diverts resources from the vaccination programme and will not affect the priority order that people will be offered the vaccine.

“The letter people receive will have full details of how to make an appointment.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor