A day to remember: London nursing home greets virus vaccine

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LONDON (AP) – In 1948 John Peake won a silver medal at the London Olympics. In 2021, also in London, he struck what many would consider gold, receiving his first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Amid growing concerns about the increase in COVID outbreaks in nursing homes in Britain, the 96-year-old was one of 45 residents of the Wimbledon Beaumont Care Community in south-west London to receive the vaccine on Wednesday developed by the University of Oxford and the British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca.

“I’m happy to have him and appreciate the fact that he got to this place early,” he told The Associated Press after receiving his hit.

Peake was the youngest member of the 1948 British field hockey team which lost 4-0 to India in the final at Wembley Stadium in the first Olympics after World War II.

“I think I’m lucky to have lasted as long as I have,” he said.

Yet Peake, who is one of the oldest surviving Olympians, was not even the oldest to be shot in the nursing home. That honor went to Joan Potts, 102, who, although in a wheelchair and clearly fragile, still had eyes that expressed the wonder of the world.

Britain is in many ways leading the vaccination campaign around the world. It was the first country to approve and use the vaccine designed by the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer and the German BioNTech. He was the first to approve the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine. He also approved a third, by Moderna, but it shouldn’t arrive until spring.

Already, around 2.5 million people in Britain have received their first blows. To get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible, Britain is taking a different path from other countries. Instead of giving people their second vaccine within three or four weeks, they will get it within 12 weeks.

The first groups online are those 80 and older, healthcare workers, nursing home residents and their caregivers. The UK government had a target for all nursing home residents to have their first vaccine by the end of the month, but doctors are now urged to move faster, given the recent rise in new infections in nursing homes. retirement.

Dr Jane Allen, who has cared for the residents of Wimbledon for nearly four decades, was on hand to deliver the blows.

“I’m certainly happy it’s finally happened because it maybe gives the residents a little more freedom, they’ve had a very difficult year,” said Allen, who, along with her partners, was in a hurry to vaccinate them. of 200 nurses. single day home residents.

Two paramedics arrived with a shiny red bag containing the precious doses of vaccine. Allen viewed and, assisted by nurse Fernando Castillo, went through the necessary questions: Are you feeling well? What about allergies? Do you want to take this coronavirus vaccine?

While waiting to receive their photos, residents offered glimpses of their personalities and past, demonstrating empathy, humor and resilience.

For some it has been a great relief, including gregarious Gwen Nurse, 86, who has just “felt very lonely” during these long months of the pandemic.

“I’m an old lady and it doesn’t matter that much to me, but it’s for the young,” she said.

For others, it was a more prosaic affair.

“I’ve been trapped a number of times,” said Ian Hurley, 80, a former police officer who helped set up the Crimestoppers hotline and who never misses an opportunity to show off his forward-thinking sense of humor.

“Anyway, I could just get out of here, cross the road and get run over,” he said.

Some, like Hurley, just rolled up their sleeve and kept going. For others, it was a plus …

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