PATIENTS have spoken of their relief at having the first dose of the Covid vaccine - in a week that St Helens clinics started calling people aged 65-69 and those with long-term health conditions. 

Mary Jones, aged 69, from Haresfinch, was among those to be given the jab at the GP-led centre at Saints’ stadium.

Mary praised the vaccine effort and the smooth running of the clinic.

She said: “I was quite emotional today to receive my vaccine and a bit relieved.

“I can see light at the end of the tunnel now and it’s the first step in getting life back to normal.”

Those with long term conditions being called include people who are clinically vulnerable, with conditions such as diabetes, learning disabilities and severe mental health issues.

Dr Hilary Flett, GP vaccination lead for the vaccine roll-out in St Helens, said the “target of offering a first vaccine to everyone in priority groups 1-4 had been hit".

She added: “Our 33 GP practices have worked amazingly well together to deliver this service, along with the mass vaccination centre and pharmacies and I am very humbled to be part of such an amazing achievement. 

“We now need to keep our vaccine supply flowing as we continue to work our way through the priority groups.

“I would also remind patients to make an appointment to get vaccinated as soon as they are called, and come at the right time so we can manage our clinic safely and ensure social distancing. 

“If you are unable to attend, please cancel your appointment so we can offer it to someone else.

“Also please remember that the vaccine does not stop transmission so even when you've had your jab, please continue to socically distance, wear a face covering and wash your hands."

Meanwhile, another patient to have the first dose this week was Ian Blackhall, from Thatto Heath.

He added: “My wife has COPD and has already had her vaccine.

“I thought I'd have to wait ages for mine as was in the 65-69 age group but got called by my GP practice a few days ago and here I am - I was made up. 

“I'm impressed with how well organised and quick the vaccination clinic has been and I'm hoping that with everyone getting vaccinated, this gets us out of this situation before too long."

Nationally, almost 1.2 million letters landed on doorsteps at last weekend asking people to log on to the national booking service at with another 1.2 million due to arrive this week. 

Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.

Those who receive a letter can choose from more than 100 large scale vaccination centres, around 200 pharmacy services a well as their local GP vaccination service.

The latest phase sees GP led vaccination sites also focus on the clinically vulnerable from cohort 6 because of the relationship between general practice and those with long term conditions, and continuity of care.

Should somebody aged 65 to 69 want to wait to be called by their local GP vaccination service or who have already received the jab they do not need to respond to their invitation.

The JCVI defines clinically vulnerable people as those with:

chronic respiratory disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis and severe asthma

chronic heart disease (and vascular disease)

chronic kidney disease

chronic liver disease

chronic neurological disease including epilepsy

Down’s syndrome

severe and profound learning disability


solid organ, bone marrow and stem cell transplant recipients

people with specific cancers

immunosuppression due to disease or treatment

asplenia and splenic dysfunction

morbid obesity

severe mental illness