Retired GP giving vaccine in Windsor 'loves' helping NHS in COVID fight

Staff working at a coronavirus vaccination centre in Windsor have been set a target of reaching the over 70s and clinically vulnerable people by mid-February, a retired GP helping in the jab programme has said.

Dr Jenny Langdon, who served as a GP for decades before retiring about five years ago, says it is ‘wonderful’ to be rejoining the NHS in the fight against COVID-19, but said this target is only possible if supplies of the injection are made available and there are enough people to administer it.

Dr Langdon and her team are working out of a base at Windsor Racecourse to vaccinate people in order of vulnerability, and have also been visiting care facilities and people’s homes across Windsor to provide them with the life-saving jab.

She compared the vaccine to an object being wrapped around a key preventing it from working on a door – much like a virus being prevented from entering cells once a person has been protected.

The team at the racecourse have been getting through the over 80s, and are hoping to get on to the 75-80 category next week.

Bosses have set them a target of mid-February as a deadline to vaccinate the following group, which is the over 70s, and those over 16 who are extremely vulnerable to the virus.

They are armed with two vaccines – the Pfizer-BioNTech version and the British-made Oxford/Astra-Zeneca.

Dr Langdon says the latter is a lot easier to administer not just because of its lower storage temperatures, but also because people do not have to be checked over for as long after they receive the jab.

“They can go straight away because there just isn’t the same risk with this [the Oxford] one,” she said.

On the mid-February target, Dr Langdon added: “That is fine, but it is rather dependent on us getting the vaccine and having enough people to give it out.”

The retired GP, from Holyport, has been working in medicine in Africa since retirement but says she has enjoyed returning to the NHS as the pandemic halted her plans to return to the continent.

She has urged other people in a similar position as her to do the same thing and join the mass vaccination effort across the country.

“I have loved it. To do this and to feel you are fighting back against this virus is wonderful, really.”

She also described the feeling when she meets people about to be given the jab, many of whom have been isolated since March.

“As soon as people realise we have got the vaccine, there is a great big smile. It gives people a boost. A lot of these patients have not been out since March at all. We have had people in tears.”

Dr Langdon stressed the importance of remaining vigilant after a first dose, as although people have some immunity from COVID, they need to wait until their second dose before they receive full protection.

Vaccine myths have been spreading on social media, and Dr Langdon dispelled the common conspiracy theories, but she did acknowledge that people may have concerns about the jab and urged them to report any side effects on the NHS website.

“We are all vigilant, this is a new vaccine, we have to be very careful about the side-effects,” she said.

“The risk from the disease is huge – the risk from the vaccination is minuscule compared to it.”

As vaccines begin to be rolled out across the UK – including another one, US-based Moderna, scheduled for the spring – Dr Langdon thinks there is a glimmer of hope, but urged people to remain wary of the virus.

“The virus is having a great time at the moment. It is going from human to human and this [the vaccine] is the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said.

Elsewhere in the Royal Borough, a frontline doctor has said that all Maidenhead care home residents have been vaccinated with their first dose. 

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