Meet the heroes who have given life-saving Covid jabs to 40,000 people

Coronavirus vaccination staff at Dereham Hospital

Coronavirus vaccination staff at Dereham Hospital - Credit: Archant

Approval of the first coronavirus jab in December 2020 was a huge moment for a country desperate to escape the clutches of Covid. 

But it also meant the NHS was tasked with delivering a vaccine rollout on an unprecedented scale. 

Thankfully, hundreds of thousands of health workers and volunteers were up to the task, ensuring millions of people were able to receive life-saving injections. 

The Beetley Ward site at Dereham Hospital

The Beetley Ward site at Dereham Hospital - Credit: Archant

More than 40,000 of those shots have been administered by Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust’s vaccination team on the Beetley Ward at Dereham Hospital, which will welcome patients for the last time on Saturday (July 30). 

Services are due to be moved to Kelling Hospital, near Holt, which many employees following suit.

Anita Walker, a member of the team, had retired from running a home care service just before the pandemic - but felt it was her duty to contribute to the vaccination effort. 

Anita Walter came out of retirement to work at the Covid vaccination centre at Dereham Hospital

Anita Walter came out of retirement to work at the Covid vaccination centre at Dereham Hospital - Credit: Archant

"I felt bad for leaving at a time when I was needed," said Mrs Walker, from Fakenham. 

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"I had only intended to do it for a couple of months, but it has been such a lovely experience with a great bunch of people. 

"What I've loved is that feeling that you are helping and supporting the local community, and getting them back to some sort of normality."

Among those to work alongside her is Matt Cushion, who was working in the care sector but decided his skills could be put to good use elsewhere. 

Matt Cushion, who has been working at the Covid vaccination centre at Dereham Hospital

Matt Cushion, who has been working at the Covid vaccination centre at Dereham Hospital - Credit: Archant

"At the beginning it was very emotional," said the 34-year-old. "I remember on day one, the patient cried when they received the very first vaccine - and that made us emotional.

"Everyone we've given a jab to has been so grateful. It has been an honour to be a part of it."

Annabel Trick, clinical and operational lead for the site, was glowing in her praise of hard-working colleagues. 

"It is absolutely the thing I am most proud of in my many years of working in the NHS," she added.

Annabel Trick, clinical and operational lead at the Covid vaccination centre at Dereham Hospital

Annabel Trick, clinical and operational lead at the Covid vaccination centre at Dereham Hospital - Credit: Archant

"It has been such a huge privilege to meet such an important need in society, and to work with such an incredibly diverse group of people.

"I have never worked in a more positive environment."

The vaccination site at Kelling Hospital will open on Friday, August 5.

People local to Dereham can still book a jab at Swanton Morley Surgery by visiting nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19.