CHRISTMAS has come early and there is light at the end of the tunnel.

The first batches of Covid-19 vaccine arrived in Shropshire this morning (Monday) and the first people will receive the jab almost immediately.

Dr Caron Morton, a partner at the Station Drive surgery in Ludlow, has been part of a working group organizing the roll out of the vaccine that holds the promise of returning life to some kind of normality over the coming months.

“It is really exciting,” said Dr Morton.

She hopes that people will take the opportunity to get protected.

“I am satisfied that the vaccine is safe although I know some people are concerned,” said Dr Morton.

“What normally takes years has been done in just a few months.”

This is in part because of the priority given to finding a vaccine and also the fact that whilst Covid-19 is new it is one of a family of coronaviruses that are known.

Full details of the priority regime have still to be determined but it is believed that those at the highest risk and front line NHS staff will get the vaccination first.

“People will need to have two doses about three weeks apart,” said Dr Morton.

“To have full protection it is vital that the second dose is taken.”

Dr Morton said that all the indications are that the vaccines will give a good level of protection.

The first vaccines to be given is the one produced by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech. This has to be stored at -70 degrees and so can only be given in certain settings.

However, it is anticipated that the Oxford vaccine made by Astra Zeneca will be available in the very near future. This will be less problematic because it can be stored in a fridge.

Vaccines will be administered at centres that will be set up although some will also be given in surgeries. The centres are necessary because of the large number of people who will be given injections in a short space of time.

Dr Morton said that the vaccine would not be given to children or pregnant women but otherwise the indication is that it is suitable for almost everyone.

This is because the vaccine has not been tested on pregnant women and all the indications are that Covid infections in children are very minor.

However, GPs are still waiting for advice in respect of patients whose immunity is depressed or who are receiving treatments such as chemotherapy.

It can be taken alongside the annual flu vaccine although they would not be given at the same time.

People who have already had a positive test for Covid-19 or who believe that they have had the virus will also be able to have the vaccine.

Dr Morton said that it will take time to roll out the vaccine to everyone although the ambition is to do it as soon as possible.

“It will be good because we are still seeing people made very sick by Covid-19,” she said.

“There is also the issue of the impact upon mental health and also people who may have delayed getting a diagnosis or treatment for other conditions.

“Hopefully, we will be able to get back to what we were doing before Covid-19.”

A feature of the virus has been that whilst it is relatively minor or even asymptomatic for many, it can be lethal for others and the danger increases exponentially with age.

Ludlow has a larger proportion of older people that the national average.