THIS week marks a monumental day in the county's fight against coronavirus as jabs were administered to Cumbrian patients for the first time.

When we take in the sheer importance of what available vaccines mean and the impact they may have in the weeks and months ahead, we should take a step back and acknowledge this didn't happen overnight.

"It is a project we have been working on for a few weeks now," explained Natalie Peat, pharmacy site operation lead at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust.

"We have been working in collaboration with lots of different people around the hospital, estates, doctors, nurses, IT and everyone here in pharmacy, we've all had our roles to play.

"It has been hard doing that while also dealing with poorly patients coming in with Covid, but everyone has really pulled together and worked through it.

"I think it is an amazing achievement, it is something that I have never experienced in my lifetime, I have never been through a pandemic before and I think it is absolutely incredible that we are one of the first trusts to be able to vaccinate people."

Backing up the sentiment of his colleague, clinical director of pharmacy at the trust Paul Fieldhouse, said: "It is absolutely fantastic that North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust is one of the first trusts to be selected in the UK to be selected to receive the vaccine and for the people of west Cumbria to be first in the queue is absolutely fantastic news.

"It has been a great effort across the trust.

"The pharmacy team in terms of getting the vaccine into the trust and all the special handling and putting all the systems in place.

"We have had tremendous help from other teams as well, such as the estates team in terms of getting the rooms ready, the nurses, occupational health, I.T. systems, as well as finance in terms of helping to get everything up and running."

The characteristics of the vaccine have made the challenge even harder.

"The vaccine requires special storage it needs particular careful handling in terms of the preparation of each dose and there are some complexities that mean we can only use it at the West Cumberland Hospital site at the moment," continued Paul.

"We are looking at how we can move this vaccine or potentially have deliveries into other areas in north Cumbria as soon as possible.

"We are working collaboratively with other trusts across the country, especially in the North East.

"Newcastle hospitals have been tremendously helpful in terms of helping to get our governance right and supporting the implementation of this vaccine.

"As soon as we can we will make it available elsewhere in north Cumbria."