A D-Day veteran has celebrated his 96th birthday by being one of the first in the queue to receive a Covid-19 vaccination.
Robert Stapleton, who was awarded the Legion d’ honneur for his part in the D-Day landings, was among 325 priority patients to be given the Pfizer vaccine at a GP hub in Spennymoor, County Durham.
Accompanied by his daughter Ann Hutchinson, 65, Robert was given his vaccination by nurse practitioner Marie McGonnell.
“After my own experience with Covid-19 it was really important to me that my dad got the vaccination as soon as it became available,” said Ann who tested positive for Coronavirus in November.
“I’m still suffering from the debilitating effects of it now, but I’m one of the lucky ones and I’m just so thankful that my dad didn’t catch it.
“This year has been so difficult for so many people I just hope that this vaccine is the first step towards everything going back to normal.”
Keen sports fan Robert, who regularly played badminton until he was 91, planned to continue his birthday celebrations with a haircut and a socially distanced family tea.
“It’s been a pretty good birthday present getting the vaccine,” he said.
“In the war you could see the enemy you were fighting, this one you can’t see –so it’s really important that everyone gets their vaccination when they are invited to come forward.”
All patients receiving the vaccine will have to return in 28 days for a follow-up booster dose.
Dr Matthew Shield, lead GP at Oxford Road Surgery, one of five GP practices operating from the Spennymoor vaccination hub, added: “This is the first day of our Covid -19 vaccinations and it has been extremely challenging, every single member of our team has been absolutely fantastic.
“I’ve been very impressed with the uptake so far and it has been emotionally overwhelming listening to the patients today, many of whom are so thankful to be getting the vaccination.
“On a personal note I think this has to be the proudest moment in my career, to see primary care teams coming together like never before, I’m so proud of what we have achieved.
“However the message to our patients and public remains the same, it’s really important that people wait to be invited –the NHS will let them know when it is their turn to come forward for the vaccine.”