AN 80-year-old from Whitehaven was the first patient in Cumbria to receive a coronavirus vaccine.

Yesterday marked the first day of the national rollout of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, with the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven one of the first to administer the first approved vaccine against Covid-19.

The first person in Cumbria to receive the vaccine was 80-year-old Agnes Hardy from Kells. “I’m honoured to be the first patient to have the vaccine today. It great news for the area. I wanted to have it so I am a step closer to seeing my family again, as I have been shielding,” she said.

Staff from the North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Trust - which also runs the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle - have been administering the vaccine to those in the government’s priority groups, including those over 80, care home staff and frontline staff.

Chief nurse Anna Stabler commented: “We are delighted our staff and patients are among the first in the world to receive this groundbreaking vaccine. In this first week we are concentrating on ensuring our most vulnerable get the protection first.

“We are inviting people to come and get their jab in order of the government’s priority list – please come when you are invited. This is the start of a long process to deliver the vaccine across the county and we urge people to bear with us while this is rolled out.”

The North Cumbria trust said the county managed to secure the vaccine after a “huge logistical feat to ensure all processes were in place to enable the storage and administration of the jabs”.

“We pulled out all the stops to make sure that Cumbria was in the first rollout. A dedicated team consisting of pharmacy colleagues, estates, nursing leads, HR, IT, infection prevention, health and safety and finance worked round the clock to make sure that Cumbria was given the priority it needs to fight this virus. I am so very proud we managed to do it and we are now in the best position we can be in order to protect the people in north Cumbria,” explained Paul Fieldhouse, clinical director for the Trust’s pharmacy services.

The vaccine must be stored at incredibly low temperatures and the facilities to do that were only available at the West Cumberland Hospital.

The rollout across Cumbria is expected in the near future as other vaccines are approved and advances continue with the Pfizer vaccine. There is currently no timeline for this, the trust says.