Tunbridge Wells couple among first to get Covid jab at Tonbridge vaccination centre

Tunbridge Wells couple among first to get Covid jab at Tonbridge vaccination centre
Margaret and Trevor Steadman

The Angel Centre in Tonbridge was set to open yesterday [Monday] to become Kent and Medway’s third large-scale vaccination centre, but snow forced a postponement to today (Tuesday, February 9).

The centre is now in operation and Margaret and Trevor Steadman from Tunbridge Wells were among the first patients who received their jab there.

71-year-old Margaret said she and husband had made the most of being indoors during the national lockdown, but that she was keen to be able to go out again in the future.

She said: “I think we took our freedom for granted; I want to be able to go out again when I want. I came today because I want to protect myself, other people, the world.”

Trevor, 72, added: “We walked straight in today, it feels safe and well organised. I am missing being able to go to Suffolk in our caravan and am looking forward to when we can do that again.”

Situated in the centre of Tonbridge, the sports centre has two large car parks outside making it accessible for people going there to be vaccinated.

Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust Chief Executive Paul Bentley said: “Covid-19 has taken a toll on everyone in our communities in some way; I think the hope the vaccination gives cannot be under-estimated, but we know we still have some way to go.

“The vaccination programme is providing a real boost to people, especially for older community members who may have been shielding for some time. I am enormously proud of all the hard work that so many people have contributed to get this centre open as fast as we have been able to. I look forward to the day when the centre will close because we will have provided protection and hope to the communities we serve.’’

Francine Brewer, 70, from Tunbridge Wells, said she had wanted to be vaccinated because she doesn’t want Covid-19. “I suspect I might have had it last March, but I don’t want to take the risk. I’m looking forward to my next one now and to anyone wondering whether to have it, don’t have any doubts at all,” she said.

It takes a lot of planning to open a vaccination centre; from identifying a suitable site to rolling out the equipment needed for it to be able to start vaccinating and this has all been done in days.

Tonbridge & Malling MP Tom Tugendhat said: “I am delighted the Angel Centre is now home to a Covid-19 vaccination centre. It’s a really positive boost for the community in west Kent, knowing it is so accessible for many people, and is a great use of space for priority groups to be vaccinated.’’

The centre in Tonbridge joins those already open in Folkestone and Gravesend.

The centre is open to people aged 70 and over. The last invitations to those aged 70 and over, or those who are on the shielded patients’ list who have not yet been vaccinated, will be going out this week.

You can make an appointment by phoning 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/covidvaccination

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