THE Shropshire coronavirus vaccination programme has taken another step forward with the opening of the county's second hospital hub at the Gobowen Orthopaedic Hospital.

The new hospital hub follows on from the first hub at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, which opened last month, as well as other local vaccination centres at community sites in Bridgnorth and Telford.

It is being run in partnership with the North Shropshire Primary Care Network (a group of GP practices), and will initially be offering the vaccine to people aged 80 and over, as well as to health and social care staff.

The first patient to receive their vaccine at the hospital on Thursday morning was grandmother-of-three, Freda Hays, aged 91, from Whitchurch.

She said: "When I was contacted to say I would be having the first dose of my Covid vaccine today, I was extremely surprised but also felt very relieved and hopeful.

"I'm looking forward to when things start to get back to normal again and I'll be able to spend more time with my family, rather than just the doorstep visits."

Also receiving their vaccine was Jessica Harris, aged 83, from Ellesmere who said: "I felt absolutely over-the-moon yesterday morning when I had the phone call to tell me I'd be able to have my first dose.

"When they asked if I could get to the hospital from Ellesmere, I said I would walk if I had to – just to make sure I could get it!

"This vaccine feels like a bit of light at the end of this dark tunnel, it's giving us all a bit of hope and of course, some protection.

"I've been shielding throughout this time and the thing I'm most looking forward to doing again is going to the shops and having a coffee.

"I would encourage anyone who gets the call to offer them the vaccine to grab it with both hands!"

Nurse Rebecca Warren was the clinician who gave the first jab at the hospital site.

Rebecca is the Clinical Lead Nurse for the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt (RJAH) Hub, having been redeployed from her usual role as nurse manager for the Midland Centre for Spinal Injuries.

She said: "I am proud to be able to contribute to the national effort to roll out the coronavirus vaccine, and by doing this I really feel I get to be a part of history.

"It was wonderful to see the first people coming through the doors this morning, after all the work we've done over the Christmas period to get this hub up and running as soon as possible.

"It's been a real team effort and everyone has worked so hard to enable this to happen.

"I feel very proud to be leading the team at RJAH to ensure we protect everyone.

"This is the outcome we all want, in order to be able to see our loved ones again and be safe."

Meanwhile Mark Brandreth, chief executive of RJAH Orthopaedic Hospital, said: "We are working closely with our Primary Care Network colleagues in north Shropshire to offer this vital service for our local community.

"The vaccine is our route back to a normal life, so I would encourage everyone who is offered an appointment to grab the opportunity.

"The NHS will be in touch with you as soon as it is your turn, so there is no need to call us."

Dr Catherine Rogers, GP partner at Wem and Prees Medical Practice and clinical director for North Shropshire Primary Care Network, also said she was delighted to see the vaccinations take place.

"The GP practices of The North Shropshire Primary Care Network are pleased to be participating in the vaccination programme to combat the Covid-19 pandemic," she said.

"We are delighted to be able to carry out vaccinations and are following the national guidance on priority groups.

"We all believe this will make a real difference in the fight against Covid but need the public to continue with current social distancing guidelines.

"That remains our best defence at the moment."

Patients are prioritised according to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation's recommendations and must have an appointment to receive their vaccination.

Patients without an appointment cannot be seen as all booking slots are allocated before arrival.

People will be contacted when they are eligible for the vaccine. In the meantime, patients are being asked not to contact their GP or the hospitals and should wait to receive a letter or phone call inviting them to book their appointment.