Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham, congratulated his constituent, Mr. Bernard Knatt, 93, of Iveston in County Durham, who received the Covid-19 vaccine in December and was looking forward to getting his second injection on January 5th.
Richard and his team had worked with Bernard earlier in the year to successfully help him get information about his wartime records from the Ministry of Defence in London. Bernard grew up in Rugby in Warwickshire and remembers vividly the Coventry Blitz and joined the Fleet Air Arm late in the war, visiting Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Singapore and Hong Kong and was on deployment to the Far East when VJ Day occurred.
Bernard was one of the first tranches of people in the North East who received the vaccine, with the Government aiming to inoculate tens of millions in the coming months. The immunisation programmes developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech have recently been authorised in Britain after extensive testing involving 20,000 people across different countries and was proven to be both safe and effective.
All residents are being offered the vaccination in order or vulnerability, starting with Bernard and the over 90s, and moving down in 5 year age bands, picking up those with conditions that make them vulnerable too. Residents are urged NOT to contact their GPs at the moment about the vaccine, as their GPs will contact them over the coming weeks. Over 40,000 people in the North East have now had their first dose of the vaccine as part of over 800,000 across the UK. The new Astra-Zeneca/Oxford vaccine is being rolled out nationwide with over half a million doses being distributed across the country for distribution from Monday.
Bernard said: “I am extremely glad to have had the vaccine. My arm felt a little stiff just afterward, but I had no problems and am very keen to get the second jab in order to guarantee my immunity against this dreadful virus.
“I also would like to thank Richard and his team for his help with my war records and for raising this with the M.O.D. It is seventy-five years now since the war, but it is still a clear memory”.
Commenting, Richard Holden, MP for North West Durham, said:
“This has been an incredibly difficult year for everyone in County Durham, because of the public health situation. However, the exciting news we heard in November about the vaccines that have been developed is now starting to have a practical impact as people like Bernard receive it.
“I am really delighted that Bernard has had his first vaccine and will soon be able to get the full protection he needs. I would encourage everyone to get the vaccine when they are able to, in order that they protect their health as well as those of their family and friends.
“It has been a pleasure helping Bernard during 2020, and I look forward to coming back to visit him in Iveston in the New Year once the Government is able to lift the public health restrictions for good.”