Gateshead housebound vaccine effort starts with 100 year-old WWII veteran Jacky
Tuesday 02 February 2021
World War Two veteran and former prisoner of war Jacky Forster was among the first patients to get their jab as Gateshead’s Covid-19 vaccine programme for housebound people got underway this week.
Bensham-born Jacky, 100, received his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at his home in Sheriff Hill, Gateshead, as teams of community nurses began the housebound programme locally.
Jacky is the last surviving member of the 9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry, known as ‘the Gateshead Gurkhas’.
“I was very happy to have the vaccine – I’m glad to get some protection and I’ve had no after-effects from the jab,” he said.
Jacky joined C Company 9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry in 1939 and fought in France before joining the withdrawal from Dunkirk. He later served in the Middle East and endured POW camps in Italy and on the Austria-Hungary border after being captured in Libya.
“I think this lockdown is nothing compared to what he went through as a soldier and prisoner of war,” says Jacky’s daughter Valerie, 73.
“We all need a bit of a lift right now, so this is great for everybody. Dad was so happy to get the vaccine – even at 100, he never complains, he’s so grateful for the help.
“Lockdown hasn’t changed things that much for him – we still have the team of carers who visit and we keep in contact every day. We still manage to go for short walks – he used to love to stop for a pint at the local, but of course we can’t do that at the moment.”
Earlier this week local leaders hailed the ‘amazing’ efforts of Gateshead’s vaccination teams, who expect to provide their 40,000th first dose vaccine later this week.
The housebound vaccine teams are led by community nurses from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, using vaccines provided through GP-led vaccine centres at Blaydon, Birtley, Felling, the Bede Centre and Rawling Road practice.
The vaccine programme got underway locally in December, and has already provided first doses to most over-75s, with many over-70s now getting their invites.
Having provided first doses to nearly all older care home residents, Gateshead is also leading the way in vaccinating patients in other residential care homes. Both this and the housebound programme are expected to complete within two weeks.
All frontline health and social care workers in Gateshead have been invited for their jab, and anyone who works in health and social care locally who feels they have been missed should discuss this with their employer.
Dr Mark Dornan, a Gateshead GP and assistant clinical chair at NHS Newcastle Gateshead Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “It’s been a worrying time for many, but especially for housebound people, who are some of our most vulnerable patients – so it’s fantastic that we can now offer them the vaccine.
“We are aiming to reach everyone in the top four priority groups by mid-February, including those registered with their GP as housebound.”
Joanna Clark, director of operations for community and older person’s mental health at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our community nursing teams are now visiting people who are housebound for their Covid vaccinations. These are our patients who are too frail or ill to come in, who still need their vaccine. We work all year round to provide care but these visits will feel extra special as it’s the first step in giving people hope that they may be able to see their loved ones soon.
“GPs, our health and care staff, community partners and volunteers are working tirelessly to make this vaccine programme a success.”