'V day': The first Covid vaccinatons in Havering, Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham


Yvonne Fothergill receiving her vaccine. - Credit: BHRUT

The Covid-19 vaccine is being administered to NHS staff and care workers throughout Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge.

BHRUT, the trust which manages Queen's Hospital, Romford, and King George Hospital, Goodmayes, started vaccinations on Tuesday afternoon.


Michael Roche, who works for Heathlands Day Centre in Barking and Dagenham. - Credit: BHRUT

A vaccination hub has opened at Queen's Hospital.

Staff at Saint Francis Hospice, Havering-atte-Bower, have also started having the vaccination.

Not everyone can have the vaccination at this stage. Those eligible will be contacted directly to book an appointment.

Saint Francis Hospice staff have vaccination

Saint Francis Hospice's Diane Drain is happy to have the vaccination to protect her patients. - Credit: Saint Francis Hospice

The very first person to give a vaccine at the trust was Arax Sepanian, a practice development nurse in the Care of the Elderly team. She said: “I’ve been a flu champion for six years, giving 600-700 flu jabs each time so everyone knows me as the ‘jab lady’. It was nice to be the first to give this vaccine at our trust, although I was a bit nervous.

“I’m passionate about staff wellbeing – we all put our patients in our hearts to provide the best care we can. This is a small thing we can do for our staff, which in turn safeguards our patients.”

Michael Roche, who works for Heathlands Day Centre in Barking and Dagenham, and since the start of the pandemic has also been working in the borough's adult learning and elderly centres, was one of the first.

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He said: "I'm really pleased to have the jab and feel so lucky to be part of the first day. I feel like I'm part of history. Everyone should have the jab when they can because it will make everywhere much safer".

Yvonne Fothergill has been a carer for eight years in Ashbrook Nursing Home, Romford. She said: "We need normality and hopefully the vaccination will give us this.

"I'm not getting any younger; I want to get back to travelling again as soon as I can and see places I haven’t seen before."

Julie-Anne Hull is a community staff nurse who works in NELFT’s district nursing team. She was pleased to get the vaccine as she works with elderly and vulnerable patients in care homes and their own homes across the three boroughs.

She said: “I work with very elderly and vulnerable people, often going from house to house. I’ve worried that I could be carrying the virus without knowing it so it’s really important for me to have the vaccine and know I am protected.

“Anything I can do which puts my patients at less risk, I will. I would encourage everyone to get the vaccine when they are asked, as it will only work if everyone does their bit.”

Michael Witham receives his vaccination

Abbeyfield Care Home worker, Michael Witham. - Credit: BHRUT

Michael Witham, who works in Abbeyfield Care Home,  said: "It feels good to have the vaccine. I had no doubts about having it. Having the jab means we can try to keep people safe. I would encourage others to have the vaccine if offered."

Sharon Dean, who has been a housekeeper at Parkside Residential Home in Romford for 14 years, added: “I will feel much better having the jab as it will make my residents feel safer."

Doctor Lourdes Da-Cunha said: "Due to the pandemic I've had to shield because of my underlying health issues. I think having the jab, I'll be fortunate enough to hopefully get back to my normal activities."

The trust also welcomed back Margo McFarlane as a vaccinator. She retired 10 years ago but had no hesitation about come back to help.

Margo said: “As soon as I heard about the vaccine I knew I wanted to be part of it.

“It’s a really exciting time. As a nurse we give injections every day, but this is something different. It’s what we must have to ensure we can go back to any form of normality. That’s why I think it’s so important to have it, and encourage everyone else too. It’s amazing it has been developed and that I’m one of those giving it.”


Magda Smith, the trust's chief medical officer, said: “I am excited about this vaccine as I believe it will be a game changer. 

“I have absolutely no hesitation in having it to protect myself from Covid-19 so I can continue to help my patients. When it’s your turn, please do get jabbed.

“I am delighted our vaccination hub is now open, ensuring those who need it most, like care home workers and vulnerable frontline staff, are first in line to get it.

“The vaccine is our best defence against Covid-19 and will help make 2021 a better year than 2020 has been.”

* An earlier version of this story suggested residents in care homes were being vaccinated but that is not the case yet. At the moment it is only staff.

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