AN 83-year-old became the first person in Barnsley to be vaccinated against coronavirus as part of a national rollout this week - and questioned why others deemed vulnerable would opt against taking it.

The widespread vaccination programme started in the town on Tuesday as Herbert Barker, from Wombwell, received the ground-breaking vaccine.

GP practices across the town have come together to set up a local vaccination service in Barnsley which will start by vaccinating those aged 80 and over on a phased basis this month and in 2021.

Herbert said: “I think it’s been something the whole world has been trying to get a vaccine for so now it’s here, why not take it?

“I’m most looking forward to just getting rid of the virus.

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“I’ve not told my family, so the first time they see it, it’ll probably be in the Chronicle on Friday.”

GP practice teams have worked rapidly to redesign selected NHS sites in Barnsley which can put in place safe measures to meet the tough logistical challenges of offering the vaccination.

This particular vaccine needs to be stored at a certain temperature, and there also needs to be enough space for people to be vaccinated as well as wait the short while after they receive the vaccination.

Over the coming weeks and months the NHS will contact people in the priority groups when it is their turn to receive the vaccine, starting with people aged 80 and over.

Dr Mehrban Ghani added: “GPs, nurses, healthcare assistants, pharmacists and other primary care staff are eager to play their part in protecting people against coronavirus when their time comes to offer the vaccine.

“As a GP I am proud to be part of this huge effort to protect our patients across the borough against the virus.”

Dr Nick Balac, chair of NHS Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “This marks a really positive day for all of us across Barnsley. I want to thank every single person who has been involved in getting the very first local vaccination service up and running.

“Along with the rest of the country, we’re starting with those most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 and will be vaccinating those over 80. This is the start of what will take some months to deliver as more vaccine supplies become available.

“If we all stay vigilant in the weeks and months ahead, we will be able to look back at this as a decisive turning point in the battle against the virus.”

People will be contacted by the NHS and offered the vaccine when it is their turn but in the meantime, people are asked not to contact NHS services regarding the Covid-19 vaccine during these already very busy times.

Julia Burrows, Barnsley’s director for public health, said: “This is a really positive and monumental step to protect vulnerable groups within our communities.

“We will be continuing to roll vaccinations out to priority groups in the coming months and will share updates around the program as we receive them.

“We must all continue to follow the rules to protect our families, friends and communities.

“Isolate and get a test at the first sign of any symptoms, including a new continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

“Follow the ‘Hands, Face, Space’ guidance - regularly wash your hands, wear a face covering and stay two metres apart from people who are not part of your household.”