Vaccinations start


The Covid-19 vaccination roll-out commenced at Etchingham Village Hall the day before yesterday, Wednesday January 20, and we have a first hand  report from David Worwood who drove his parents there. But there is an alternative way of getting there as Pat Hughes from Rye and District Community Buses explains.

Anthony Kimber provides an update and commentary on the big picture, and what our MP and others have been pressing for, and, if this is the turning point in the pandemic, Dee Alsey takes us on a journey through the past months.

We are told that all the priority groups should be vaccinated by February 15 by the Prime Minister, and I assume I am included, writes Charles Harkness, as I am 78 with severe chest problems (even having my own nebuliser at home) – but, as I was not shielded last year by the NHS, I am not too confident about the NHS’s record keeping.

Witnessing the launch

But, back to the first day of the Etchingham jabs. Barry Nealon, chairman of the Rye, Winchelsea and District Memorial Hospital Charitable Trust, writes Kenneth Bird, drove across to witness the start of the programme, and about 400 people received their injections, and the same number would be treated daily ongoing.

For Rye and District residents, the Community Bus service will be available each day to ferry those unable to travel by other means. Pat Hughes, Operations Manager, has offered free of charge travel to ensure that everyone needing to make the journey can do so and her full staff are available to drive the buses. Pat’s phone number is 01797 227722.

Barry Nealon was impressed with the facility at Etchingham, describing it as a beautifully-organised establishment. There were separate rooms for waiting, and form registration; then into the hall to the six-bay protected area for vaccination and finally into another large room where some twenty people were resting for 15 minutes to check the absence of side effects.

The vaccine used at Etchingham is the Pfizer vaccine. Barry Nealon ascertained from speaking with the regional organiser that when the AstraZeneca vaccine becomes more available it creates the opportunity to administer closer to Rye.


Image Credits: BBC .

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  1. Having seen local pressure result in at least two small scale vaccination hubs, at Tenterden and Ticehurst, being opened this week, it is disappointing that Rye doesn’t have the same political muscle.
    I’m pleased to hear Mr Nealon report that the Hub on the Hill or another venue is likely to be opened soon.
    The proclaimed national aims were centres within 10 miles and one source hoped for a maximum 10 minutes walk.

  2. I am 76 years of age and live in an assisted living flat in Icklesham, East Sussex, my GP Surgery is in Rye, East Sussex. We have been informed through the daily broadcast that we will receive the Covid 19 Vaccine by the middle of February and the vaccination centres will be within 10 miles. Several of our over 80 year old residents, have only in the past few days, received notification that they can be vaccinated but in a village hall in Etchingham which has a population of 806. This involves a round trip in excess of 40 miles from Icklesham, whereas Rye (around trip of 12 miles) is a town with a population of over 9,000, has several suitable locations a large sports centre, a small hospital and a number of doctors surgeries.
    Why has this location been chosen as the most suitable for the residents of Lower Rother district which includes many local villages, Camber, Winchelsea Beach, Pett Fairlight etc. some with even further to travel?

  3. We are absolutely blown away by the excellence of the operation at Etchingham – given the difficulties that some people present with (hard of hearing, not able to take things in very well, forget personal information eg address) the initial processing goes amazingly smoothly and then you are ushered through for your jab after which you have a 15 minute sit (in case of adverse reaction) before you can leave. And they have vaccinated our entire driving team as we are front line social care workers – greatly appreciated.
    Rye & District Community Transport is working with the Ferry Road Health Centre, Rye Medical Centre and Northiam & Broad Oak Surgery to ensure that anyone who cannot get themselves to Etchingham will get transport. The surgeries contact their patients with the appointments and check as to them getting there, giving our number (01797 227722) to call to get transport if needed. Most of those who contact us will get the answerphone so please leave your phone number, appointment date and time, your name and address. I suggest you get all that written down before you call as you only have a minute to leave your message and it’s not helpful if we don’t get all the details. And please, phone calls only – NO e-mails. When I take off the messages I get back to the callers as soon as I can to let them know I’ve got their message and explain when I will re-contact them with their pick-up time (which will be late afternoon/early evening the day before their appointment – people have been amazingly tolerant of me calling them at 7 or 8 in the evening!). This week we will have taken people from Rye and all the villages we serve in small groups (yesterday and today we are taking 5 separate small groups). It might not be ideal to have to go to Etchingham but we all need to get vaccinated – onwards and upwards!

  4. Thankyou so much, Pat, for all your hard work and dedication to our local area. Although I am able to get myself to Etchingham, it is a great comfort to know that this community is so well served by your transport service.

  5. How lucky we are to have our Community bus, and Pat at its helm. It must be a logistical nightmare for her to get the buses and patients to the right place at the right time. It would be interesting to know just how many of our older residents will have made use of this great service by the time we no longer need to get to Etchingham for our vaccinations.

  6. It’s great that we are, at last, starting vaccinating. All be it miles away. However I understand the hub at Etchingham village hall is only using the Pfizer vaccine. What happens with us who have allergies? (I have to carry an Epipen) I am on the critically vulnerable list so hope to hear something in the next few weeks but obviously can’t have the Pfizer vaccine. Let’s hope the Oxford vaccine is soon made available for our area.

  7. I had my vaccine today at Etchingham and it was the Astra Zeneca vaccine. I was surprised as I thought we had all been made to go to Etchingham because we were all having the Pfizer and that was the only place it could be stored. Surely then a place could have been found in Rye where we could have had the Astra Zeneca as that is easier to store. The organization at Etchingham was excellent and all the staff and volunteers were very kind but it was along way to go. It would be good if we could have the booster in the Rye area


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