NHS staff and patients in Teesside are now being protected against COVID-19 after the ground-breaking Pfizer vaccine was rolled out this week.
Staff and patients are being vaccinated, following a priority system which includes health issues, age, ethnicity and their job role.
The organisation is also working with local care homes to help vaccinate its workers.
Medical director, Deepak Dwarakanath, said: “This is a truly ground-breaking moment for the organisation and for the health service in this country.
“We feel privileged to be an accredited vaccination site and to be able to protect our staff, our patients and staff from our local care homes who we work with so closely across the Tees Valley.
“For our workforce, it has been the most challenging year of our careers. And for patients and our local community, it has been one of the most worrying and uncertain times they have ever experienced.
“This vaccine gives us all the hope that we can protect the most vulnerable, ourselves and our loved ones and reduce pressure on our services.”
As a frontline worker who is aged over 50 and from a black, Asian and minority ethnic group, Dolon Basu, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, was one of the first staff members to be protected.
She said: “I feel very privileged to have my first dose of vaccine today.
“This is the best Christmas present ever and I am hoping that by taking the vaccine voluntarily we will be able to beat COVID-19 altogether. As doctors it is our duty to protect ourselves and our patients.
“My simple message to all is – please take the vaccine to protect yourself, your patients and your family members.”
She said: “The last few months have been extremely challenging for us all. I have had to work from home for a large period.
“To not be able to do what I am passionate about and directly care for my patients – to touch and hug them and help them get better – has been so difficult.
“I am so relieved and pleased to soon be able to return to doing what I love most.”
The vaccine is being delivered from a special hub set up and managed by the trust’s workforce, education, organisation development, pharmacy, infection prevention and control, ICT teams and colleagues from North Tees and Hartlepool Solutions (LLP).
Gary Wright, deputy chief people officer, said: “We are delighted to have the vaccine centre set up on site in the organisation. It is already allowing us to protect so many staff and patients, as well as our community partners in care homes across the Tees Valley.
“I would like to thank all staff involved in helping set up the vaccine hub – helping protect our community and ultimately save lives.”