Coronavirus care home vaccinations started this week.

The first to receive the vaccination at the Southlands home in Port Erin was 84-year old Sally Murray, one of 33 residents and six staff who had their jab yesterday (Monday).

Sally, who has lived at Southlands since 2018, also became the first person in the island to receive the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, which is being used in this latest stage of the rollout.

On having the vaccination Sally said: ’Is that it? Everyone who can should have the vaccine. This will help not only me but everyone else and I feel very lucky to be getting the first one.’

A team of vaccinators is visiting private and public sector residential homes in the island this week. By the end of the week, more than 200 care home residents will have gained protection from serious illness caused by Covid-19.

Currently, the Pfizer vaccine is being given to health and care staff and the over 80s at a vaccination hub in ward 20 on the Noble’s Hospital site.

The Pfizer vaccine has to be kept in deep freeze and requires careful handling, transportation and reconstitution before it is put into arms, so it is being administered at the hospital.

The less complex process involved in administering the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine makes it more suitable for ’taking to’ vulnerable groups and others in the community.

Care home residents, health and care staff and those aged over 80 are the top priority groups for vaccination. Residents of nursing homes who wish to be vaccinated will be visited from next week in a similar rollout.

A separate consent process is in place for residents of care homes who lack capacity to make the decision for themselves, and families are being invited to give their views on whether they wish their loved one to be vaccinated. The DHSC team will return to vaccinate this cohort, where vaccination has been formally agreed, at the earliest opportunity.

In the coming weeks, two new vaccination hubs will open, one in Douglas at the former Shoprite store in Chester Street and the other at a purpose-built hub at the airport. These are designed to provide a convenient facility for the public and vaccinators as supplies arrive on the island for all priority groups and the wider population in turn.

Already, more than 2,000 frontline staff from the public and private sectors across the island have received the Pfizer vaccine.

Minister for Health and Social Care David Ashford said: ’With the AstraZeneca vaccine now on island, and preparations complete, our vaccination programme can accelerate.

’We now have hub and community rollout operating in tandem, using different vaccines and parallel teams, and we aim to have reached the top priority groups by mid to end of March, supplies of vaccine to the island allowing.’

He added: ’This is the biggest and most complex mass vaccination programme ever undertaken in the Isle of Man and it has required extensive planning, logistics and training. We are rapidly gaining experience and I’m delighted at how smoothly the operation is running.

’I thank everyone involved for their input and many extra hours worked to ensure vaccine is getting to the most vulnerable groups in our community.