‘We can’t wait to hug the grandkids’: Pensioners in three towns where more than 90% of over 80s have had jab tell of joy at prospect of seeing loved ones and travelling aboard as end of Covid crisis looms
- EXCLUSIVE Pensioners celebrating their new found freedom after receiving their coronavirus vaccinations
- Cockermouth, Yateley in Hants and parts of Cotswolds have vaccinated more than 90 per cent of over-80s
- They told MailOnline they were looking forward to enjoying a drink, going on holiday and going to the races
Pensioners in vaccination hotspots are celebrating after receiving their Covid jabs – and are looking forward to making the most of their freedom by enjoying a pint and hitting the races when lockdown ends.
Some regions are leading the way with vaccinations, with the Cockermouth and Maryport primary care network in Cumbria, having vaccinated 92.8 per cent of over-80s and Yateley in Hampshire, which has achieved 90.86 per cent.
Parts of the Cotswolds have also vaccinated more than 90 per cent of the over-80s.
Boris Johnson praised NHS teams after it was reported that over 90 percent of over 80s in the areas had received jabs, and chipper residents have now revealed how they have already booked cruises and are looking forward to ‘meeting friends for a gossip.’
But the PM has had to move to reassure MPs that the UK was still ‘on track’ to hit the target of vaccinating the 14million most vulnerable people by mid-February, amid rising alarm at a slowdown in progress in some areas.
The PM warned that ‘constraints on supply’ were making the situation harder as he was grilled by MPs in the Commons this afternoon, after alarm that the daily rate had fallen for a third consecutive day.
Left, Retired race horse trainer David Quartermaine, 80, from Moreton-in-Marsh in the Cotswolds is looking forward to enjoying a pint now that he’s had his vaccine. Right, Katherine Pindar from Cockermouth in Cumbria is looking forward to enjoying a holiday
Butcher Brian Diaper from Yateley in Hampshire, told MailOnline: ‘I missed getting my hair cut’
Some regions are leading the way with vaccinations; with the Cockermouth and Maryport primary care network, in Cumbria, having vaccinated 92.8 per cent of over-80s and Yateley in Hampshire, which has achieved 90.86 per cent
Ministers have been slammed by furious families and charities for failing to vaccinate care home residents despite the immunisation programme launching six weeks ago and already being expanded to over-70s
Pressure grows on No10 to speed up Covid vaccine rollout to care homes after fatalities DOUBLE in a fortnight
Boris Johnson is under mounting pressure to speed up the Covid vaccine rollout to care homes, after damning official figures showed care homes were once again at the heart of Britain’s crisis.
Some 1,260 care home residents died from Covid in England last week, almost twice the 661 fatalities recorded in the last week of 2020. The virus is now responsible for a startling 40 per cent of all deaths in care homes.
Liz Kendall, Labour’s shadow social care minister, warned the UK is ‘in a race against time to vaccinate residents and staff’ to stop the disease from ripping through the sector.
Sir Patrick Vallance, No10’s chief scientific adviser, today warned it is ‘not safe’ for people to visit care homes, even if their loved ones had received two doses of the vaccine. He told Sky News: ‘We have to stick to the rules to get the levels down.’
Experts say there is ‘always a risk’ of the virus getting into homes via care staff if the disease is spreading at high levels in the community even if workers are being regularly tested. There have been concerns over the accuracy of the rapid tests being used in care homes.
There are also questions over whether the spike in cases and deaths is linked to the Government’s controversial policy to send Covid patients discharged from hospitals back into care homes.
Under the scheme, designed to free up hospital beds and protect the NHS, care homes which passed inspection and were deemed Covid-secure were once again asked to house infected patients.
Human rights group Amnesty International told MailOnline discharging infected hospital patients into care homes was like ‘throwing a match into a haystack’.
The group said the scheme was fuelling the crisis in the sector.
Public Inquiry specialist Kim Harrison, from law firm Slater and Gordon, told MailOnline today it was ‘unforgivable’ to house Covid patients among the people most vulnerable to the disease.
The Prime Minister has vowed that all 420,000 care home residents will receive a jab by the end of the month, a week later than the NHS target of January 24.
Yet seven weeks into the rollout, just half of the country’s care home residents have been vaccinated — despite being at the front of the queue.
More than 20,000 care home residents died from Covid-19 during the first wave of the pandemic and experts say the decision to discharge thousands of untested hospital patients into care homes in spring was partly to blame. MPs accused ministers of throwing care homes ‘to the wolves’.
But some experts say there was always going to be more care home deaths when the crisis in the community was allowed to spiral the way it has.
Furious families have hit out at the decision to start offering the vaccine to over-70s when hundreds of thousands of over-80s and 90s have yet to get theirs – resulting in many contracting the deadly virus.
Ministers insist the vaccine rollout is on track, with Matt Hancock moving to reassure over-80s who are still waiting for an invitation that they will be contacted in the next four weeks.
But questions have been raised over why Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Slough in Berkshire have been able to vaccinate all their care home residents while vaccinations in some areas are as low as 10 per cent.
Care home residents and over-80s alongside NHS staff were part of the priority group of 6.7million people to be inoculated.
Yesterday some 5.6million people aged in their 70s and younger people classed as clinically extremely vulnerable became eligible for vaccine.
Pensioners in the seaside town of Cockermouth, Cumbria, have also spoken of their joy after receiving the coronavirus vaccination.
Margaret Graham, 78, is waiting her second injection and can’t wait to meet up with friends again once it is safe to do so. The retired bank clerk said: ‘I feel a great sense of relief at the minute, now I just wish I could get the second one.
‘I’m still trying to keep away from people which I think we will have to do for a bit but I am happier.
‘I’m looking forward to being able to go out and meet friends and go for a meal, and being able to have a bit of gossip.
‘It’s the simple things I’m looking forward to, nothing too big. I have grandchildren but they’re in Wales and I can’t go see them yet because of their situation but I’m a lot more joyful now.’
Retired headteacher Hugh Hanratti has already booked a summer holiday abroad after having his jab.
The 75-year-old who lives just outside of Cockermouth said: ‘You definitely feel as though you’re less likely to get the virus once you’ve had the vaccine. ‘I’ve booked a holiday already to France, as long as they will allow us in.
‘We’re due to go in August and it’s something to look forward to. I never felt very fearful because we all locked ourselves down anyway and you couldn’t go to the shops.
‘But it’s a relief to have had it, even if it won’t change the way we behave in the short term. I have seven grandchildren and we’ve had four of them in our bubble, hopefully in about six months time the restrictions might have eased.
‘I am pleased I have had the vaccine – I think anti-vaxxers are people who must never go anywhere. ‘If they want to go anywhere of interest they’re going to have to get vaccinated.’
Alan Green is caring for his elderly partner who’s recovering from a broken foot.
The 76-year-old retired ship’s pilot said: ‘We’ve both had the one jab, my partner was supposed to be getting her second but that’s been postponed.
‘They are very good here and they are very efficient. I would like to do holidays again, that’s what we’ve missed. All of our holidays were cancelled last year.
‘We love cruises. We won’t be doing them until next year but that’s what we’re looking forward to, being able to do any holiday. It keeps us going.
‘I’m interested in my music and I make my own home music. I like to go on trips where stars play for you and you live with them in a hotel for a long weekend, it’s great.
‘That was all cancelled last year and I really missed it. ‘I’m still a bit nervous about coming to the shops as I’ve only just had mine but we’re on the way. Hope is a great thing and a great healer.’
Retired counsellor Katharine Pindar was also full of praise for the efficiency of the vaccine roll-out in the area and is hopeful for the future.
The 70-year-old, who lives just outside the town, said: ‘I’m particularly grateful that I’ve had mine, some places are only just starting the over-70s but I’m lucky here in Cockermouth.
‘I’ve always gone to the local Sainsbury’s throughout the pandemic because they’re very good at keeping distance etc. But in three weeks time I will probably feel able to travel further afield.
‘I’ve got a bubbled family but there are friends I really would like to see.
‘I’m also looking forward to being able to go on holiday in this country, where I can stay in a hotel with a friend, I’m generally very positive about it all.’
Doreen Polson, also in her seventies, lives in Keswick, Cumbria, and is looking forward to being able to hug her grandchildren again.
She said: ‘I’m really looking forward to being able to get out in the sunshine. ‘My daughter lives about five minutes away and she comes to the door with my granddaughter to see me and to bring things they’ve baked.
‘But we haven’t been able to see each other properly. My grandson is back from Sheffield and he is always one for giving hugs – it’s always ‘give me a hug Grandma.’
‘I’ve missed all that and can’t wait for it to all come round again. ‘We like to go on holiday once a year too, I like Fuerteventura and Spain but I don’t mind where we go. I will just be so happy to go abroad again.’
Valerie Fuller, 89, from a Moreton-in-Marsh, in the Cotswolds and a retired house wife, said: ‘I went and had the Pfizer vaccine just before Christmas and I feel alright.
‘I was very happy to have it and I’m feeling quite happy to try get out and get a bit of a sense of freedom but obviously whilst taking care.
‘I have been shielding and staying with my son throughout the lockdowns but I’m just hopeful to try and get out a bit more when it’s safe and get back to a slight bit of normality like before all this happened.’
Drean Doyle Holmes, 80, also from Moreton-in-Marsh, and a semi-retired writer said: ‘I’ve had the vaccine in the village were I live just before Christmas.
‘I was given the Pfizer vaccine and was very happy to have it and try and protect ourselves a bit and others. Because we do go away quite a lot or we did before these lockdowns and pandemic happened.
‘I’m looking forward to hopefully going back on my holidays and travelling and hopefully we’ll get back to the South Coast and over seas as well.
‘I feel we could be ready for it but obviously it’s all we can hope for really as we don’t really know what’s going to happen. We have been isolating throughout all of this in our own home and have come out just to see a different scene today and go for our daily walk. But we’ve stuck to all the rules and things.’
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics yesterday show the number of care home deaths linked to coronavirus has now reached 25,000.
Some 21,621 deaths in care homes in England and Wales had been registered up to January 8, along with 2,768 in Scotland and 619 in Northern Ireland, with coronavirus on the death certificate.
The ONS figures show that more than a quarter of all care home deaths in England and Wales registered in the week ending January 8 involved coronavirus – 960 out of 3,395 – a 71 per cent rise in a week (from 560).
There were 1,260 deaths involving Covid-19 in care homes notified to the Care Quality Commission in the week ending January 15, a 45 per cent rise from the 864 deaths notified during the previous week and almost double the 661 deaths notified to the regulator in the week ending January 1.
The grandmother-of-two added: ‘I’ve seen my grandchildren over zoom and we’ve been doing calls and I’ve seen them over the doorstep.
‘But obviously we can’t see them properly but they live very close by in the same town as me.
‘I’m just very happy to have the vaccine and felt I was very lucky indeed to be given it and hopefully protect myself and others.’
Patrick Holmes, 83 from Moreton-in-Marsh, in the Cotswolds and a retired golf club secretary said: ‘I’ve had the Pfizer vaccine and I felt great.
‘I felt fine I get a bit tired but when you’re 50+ you do get a bit tired and you do like to sit in the chair and have a sleep.
‘But no it had no affect at all on me.
‘I was so happy to have it it was just brilliant.
‘I just don’t think we’ll get back to any normality for a while. I’m not even looking at booking any holidays at the minute and I most definitely wouldn’t get on an airplane.
‘I would drive down to the coast but I wouldn’t stay over, I wouldn’t stay in any hotels or anything I’d just go for the day to have a wonder and a change of scenery.
‘I don’t particularly feel safer from having it, I just don’t feel any different.
‘After all the close downs we’ve had we have stayed at home and gone for walks and shopping and kept to the rules as we are doing today and I feel just as good – I’m fine.
‘I’ve got one child in Surrey and one who’s local to me and we do a lot of this just talking socially distanced outside.
‘But they have taught me how to FaceTime and Skype so I’m able to talk to my three children and catch up.
‘But I obviously haven’t been able to see my grandson because of all this so it will be good when I can.’
From left; People who’ve received the jab in Yateley Hampshire include Steve Shipp, Anthony Broome and Beverley Hopkins
Left, Margaret Graham and right, Alan Green, both from Cockermouth in Cumbria
The Cockermouth and Maryport primary care network, in Cumbria, has vaccinated 92.8 per cent of over-80s
So what IS holding up Britain’s great Covid vaccine rollout?
Fears Britain may be lagging behind on the great vaccination rollout was raised yesterday, after the daily rate fell for a third consecutive day.
But there is mounting confusion about the source of the problems.
Here, MailOnline delves into some of the factors that could be hampering the roll-out.
Officials say there are ‘a lot of moving parts’ contributing to the slowdown, with ‘intermittent’ deliveries of supplies’ playing a role.
Pfizer’s supplies have been dented by an upgrade to its Belgian factor, which will continue into next month.
Government sources have dismissed claims there are 21million doses of vaccines already in the country, although they refused to give details of stocks saying it would be a security risk.
Sadiq Khan last week accused No10 of not delivering a fair share of the Covid vaccines to London. Ministers and the NHS denied the claims.
London’s mayor blamed a simplistic formula for the lack of supply, saying the algorithm did not take into account the size of GP practices.
The allocation is believed to have been based on take-up of last season’s flu vaccine, which was relatively low.
CARE HOME FOCUS?
No10 sources have also claimed the rollout is being slowed down through difficulties contacting the remaining over-80s.
They said that top priority groups get harder to reach when more have been vaccinated already.
David Quartermaine, 80, from Moreton-in-Marsh, in the Cotswolds and a retired race horse trainer said: ‘I had the vaccine around three weeks ago and was given the Pfizer one.
‘I didn’t feel tired or anything but my wife had it as well and she did feel as if she had sore muscles and was a bit off her food for a couple days but that’s just her and how she is being in lockdown.
‘I’m not doing anything extra and being out and about. My family is down in Bristol and Yorkshire so we’re just in touch over Skype and online chatting and catching up. When we’re not in lockdown I like to go to the pubs and for coffee and watch the horse racing.
‘I belong to a horse racing group and we have coffee mornings and we all get together so it’s a proper community. I’ve also got friends that still train horses and I can go and visit when we’re allowed as it’s still such a big interest of mine.
‘I’ve got a race course pass because of being a trainer so I can go back for free whenever I want and I can’t wait to go as soon as I’m allowed and it’s safe.
‘I definitely felt a bit more comfortable about COVID we’re not abusing it though because of other people around us and neighbours and everything.
‘But I’ve got two granddaughters and I haven’t seen them or my family at all other than on our joint Skype and FaceTime calls it’s all we can do at the moment.’
David Cook, 79, from Bourton-on-the-water, in the Cotswolds and a retired vicar said: ‘I had the vaccine at Moreton-in-Marsh hospital on December 31, and they gave me the Pfizer vaccine.
‘I was very happy it was just great. I’ve been trying to carry on with normal life throughout the pandemic whilst in lockdown and staying at home.
‘But I’m very privileged that we have had them very early here in this area. I’m just so glad that I’ve already had the vaccine.
‘I can’t wait to start getting back on with normal life a bit and start going out again and going on holiday agin when we’re allowed – I’m looking forward to it actually.
‘The church has been open slightly and I’m actually taking a service on Sunday as I help the local parish’s out and I’m taking a service at a village close by.
‘We don’t sing anymore due to COVID but I’m also taking a funeral on Wednesday obviously 30 people maximum so we’re sticking to the rules.
‘And there’s no singing so I’m very happy to do that and try and carry on even with everything.
‘But it is very different for example there’s no music although we have an organist who can play but we just have to sit there and listen.
Council staff ‘offered Covid vaccines ahead of 70-somethings’
The postcode lottery row over coronavirus vaccines intensified today amid claims council staff have been offered jabs ahead of 70-somethings.
Cambridgeshire county council and Peterborough city council have secured vaccinations for children’s services staff in secondary schools, even though many are working from home, according to the Telegraph.
Under the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) priority list, only social care workers looking after clinically vulnerable adults and children should be eligible at the moment.
Despite the apparently plentiful supplies in some places, it has emerged that Sandwich in Kent is among areas that have not received a single dose of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine.
Fewer than five per cent of people have been vaccinated in London – against one in 12 in the North East and Yorkshire.
‘It’s better then not meeting definitely. People do keep their distance and they’re very very strict and the latest rules in the Church of England is that you can take a service.
‘Some churches are closed but you don’t greet people and go straight to the front afterwards so nobody talks to each other or anything.
‘It’s community and people at least can connect by looking at each other and waving. My four children are all in London so we haven’t seen any of them. And I have five grandchildren so we haven’t seen them.
‘But we phone and we zoom and FaceTime and all of that so that’s okay at least. I’m just very happy that I’ve had the vaccine and I’m obviously waiting for the second dose but I feel very happy about it and being given it.’
In the village of Yateley in Hampshire, the vaccine is providing a welcome step towards normality for Brits who have lived under coronavirus restrictions for almost a year.
Beverley Hopkins dreamed of spending her mother’s 90th birthday with her in May, celebrating with friends and family.
The 68-year-old from Mytchett, Surrey who was doing the weekly shop for her elderly mother in Yateley said: ‘I have to look after my mother, she had her vaccine last week. She’s really looking forward to getting back out and seeing her family.
‘We’ve been waving through the window and we put the shopping at her door and move away. We still can’t cuddle or go out with her, she won’t do it until she gets her second vaccine, she’s still wary.
‘We’re hoping we can get the whole family together for her 90th birthday in May.
‘Thank God they got the vaccine out, I’d prefer to have the Oxford vaccine because its home grown. Hopefully we’ll get it, be delighted and get back to normal.’
The vaccine provided a glimmer of hope for the retired cleaner who enjoyed exploring London before the national lockdown hit.
Left, Retired housewife Valerie Fuller, 89, from Moreton-in-Marsh in the Cotswolds. Right, Hugh Hanratty from Cockermouth in Cumbria
Boris Johnson blames ‘supply constraints’ for vaccine slowdown
Boris Johnson today insisted the UK is still ‘on track’ to hit the target of vaccinating the 14million most vulnerable people by mid-February despite rising alarm at a slowdown in progress.
The PM warned that ‘constraints on supply’ were making the situation harder as he was grilled by MPs in the Commons this afternoon, after alarm that the daily rate had fallen for a third consecutive day.
‘We are on track to deliver our pledge, though it is very hard because of constraints on supply,’ Mr Johnson said.
The intervention came amid mounting confusion about the source of the problems, with just 204,000 people given their first dose on Monday, down from 225,000 on Sunday, 277,000 on Saturday and a high of 324,000 on Friday.
In order to meet the target the government must average more than 350,000 doses a day from now until February 15, with the previous bullish tone from officials abruptly getting more anxious.
Pfizer’s supplies have been dented by a factory upgrade which will continue into next month. Government sources have flatly dismissed claims there are 21million doses of vaccines already in the country, although they refused to give details of stocks saying it would be a security risk.
Officials say there are ‘a lot of moving parts’ contributing to the slowdown, with ‘intermittent’ deliveries of supplies, as well as difficulties contacting the remaining over-80s and covering care homes among the factors.
However, there are hopes in Whitehall that today’s numbers will go up again.
She added: ‘I do just want to get it done so I can go out again, I loved going up to London and I just want to get back there. I’d go to the museums and I’d walk and walk, I don’t get the transport if I can help it.
‘I get out at Waterloo, go to the Victoria and Albert museum, walk along the Thames and go to St Paul’s all on my own.
‘My husband isn’t interested in that and my friends don’t have the energy to do what I do. I got there once in the last year before it all shut down again.
‘Last March I was in St George’s Hospital having open heart surgery. They chucked me out in the week that everything shut down, so I haven’t had anybody see me. For a whole year I have been struggling on my own to sort myself out.
‘When I am allowed the vaccine, I will have it even though I hate injections, especially after what I have gone through over the last year.’
Vaccine centres in Yateley, Hants, were told that they will not get further supplies because they are ahead of other areas – having vaccinated more than 90 per cent of over-80s.
Anthony Broome was desperate for the vaccine after being infected with the virus over the festive season.
The 67-year-old said: ‘I have had covid, I don’t want that again, it was horrendous. I am still suffering from it now. It has taken weeks to get over it, you are so fatigued from it, it is unbelievable – I just want to go to sleep all the time!
‘At first I didn’t think the vaccine had been tested enough but since having the virus, I think anything is better than nothing and I wouldn’t want to go through that again, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.
‘It was truly horrendous. I had it for Christmas and New Year. Two friends of mine had the vaccine last week, they’re going to carry on as normal, what else can we do. We are living in strange times, I thought it would be over sooner than this.’
Over the weekend, 3.5m coronavirus vaccines were delivered across the UK, with more than 400,000 of those being second doses.
For retired Steve Shipp, 67, the pace of vaccine rollout was encouraging as he and his wife Gabrielle were desperate to travel and get back to normality.
‘We are both retired, enjoying the good life supposedly. We have no hesitations at all about the vaccine, we are looking forward to restrictions being lifted as a result and getting out and about a bit more.
‘We have a motorhome and want to take that abroad. We lived in France for three years and we had just came back to this. I would say 99 per cent of people are looking forward to getting the vaccine, getting back to some sort of normality.
‘I think we will be a lot less worried once we get it, even going to the supermarket is an issue. It is the most risky thing that we do at the moment. The vaccine will relieve that worry for us,’ the couple of 35 years married added.
Similarly, a 75-year-old man wearing a surgical mask who wanted to remain anonymous said: ‘I am supposed to be shielding but I have to get my weekly food shop, I’m on my way to the Co-operative. I am looking forward to the vaccine so I don’t have to worry so much.’
Butcher of over 20 years experience Brian Diaper added: ‘I am very happy there is a vaccine but we will still have to carry on with the lockdown and masks until we get rid of it.
‘There is definitely a glimmer of hope to get things opened and back to normal. I have missed getting my hair cut.
‘I will go straight in and get the vaccine when I get my letter, I don’t mind at all. It’s going to be beneficial to everyone if we all get it,’ the 65-year-old added.
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