Coronavirus

Chelsea Pensioners Receive 'Early Christmas Gift' In Coronavirus Vaccine

About 300 Chelsea Pensioners have been offered the vaccine as they are part of the highest priority groups.

Chelsea Pensioners have thanked the NHS for an "early Christmas gift" as the veterans were vaccinated against COVID-19.

Among those to receive the jab at the Royal Hospital Chelsea was Second World War veteran, 98-year-old Bob Sullivan, who fought on D-Day.

"Getting vaccinated against coronavirus today is the best early Christmas gift we could hope for," he said.

Mr Sullivan said the vaccine means the veterans "will have a real spring in our step as we head into our locked-down Christmas".

Pam Richards, 88 who served with the Women’s Royal Army Corps, said: "I think the vaccine is really important. You’re not just protecting yourself, you’re also protecting everyone else."

Care home residents and staff are priority groups, along with people aged 80 and above, in the first phase of the vaccination programme.

The vaccination rollout is the biggest in NHS history and is being supported by the Armed Forces.

General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, governor of the Royal Hospital Chelsea, said "with an average age of 82", the Chelsea Pensioners are in the highest priority group to get the jab.

"This is an early Christmas present for them whilst they, like the rest of the country, come to terms with the latest restrictions.

Bob Sullivan said: "Getting vaccinated against coronavirus today is the best early Christmas gift we could hope for."

"We all look forward to a better 2021 when they can be out and about representing the nation’s veterans throughout the country."

Pippa Nightingale, chief nurse at the Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said delivering the vaccine to the veterans was a "real honour".

"They’ve fought to protect us and now we can return the favour and help protect them from coronavirus," she said.

The NHS was the first health service in the world to vaccinate people against COVID-19, outside of a clinical trial.

Just over two weeks since the first vaccination, hundreds of thousands of people have been vaccinated at 60 hospital hubs and more than 500 GP-run vaccination centres.

Minister for Care Helen Whately said: "I’m delighted that many care staff and residents have already been able to receive their first jabs, including our veterans, the Chelsea pensioners who fought to protect us."

Cover image: Chelsea Pensioner Bob Sullivan receives his coronavirus vaccine.