Nurse who was vaccine-hesitant steals the celebrity show in UK vaccination campaign

Doctors, celebrities and royalty are helping various drives to boost vaccination rates a year after first jab was issued

Toyin Oladotun advises people who are still uncertain about getting a Covid-19 jab to talk to a health professional about their concerns. PA
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A nurse who overcame her concerns about the Covid-19 inoculation is now leading the fight to encourage take up among those in the UK who remain unvaccinated.

Vaccine-hesitant Toyin Oladotun, known as "Lady T" among her colleagues, helped to launch one of the country’s first vaccination clinics but it was two months before she had her own first dose.

She urged people to get themselves protected before winter and said there was “no judgment” of people who come forward now to get their first jab.

As the first anniversary of the first Covid-19 vaccination on December 8, 2020 is marked, 6.4 million people — or 11 per cent of the eligible population — have yet to receive a single vaccine dose.

Doctors, celebrities and royalty are helping various drives to boost take-up among the unvaccinated.

“We were so excited to start administering the vaccine to protect as many people as possible against the virus, but it was difficult for me as I had friends and family warning me, as a black woman, not to get it as they were concerned about what might happen,” Ms Oladotun said.

“I spent almost two months vaccinating other people and processing all the evidence before I got my first dose.

Margaret Keenan, 90, is applauded as she returns to her ward after becoming the first person in the UK to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech covid-19 vaccine. Getty Images

“I thought I can't tell others all the benefits and not take my own advice, plus I was vaccinating people of all different ages, ethnicities and backgrounds — they all received the same advice, had their vaccines and were perfectly fine afterwards.”

Her occupational health nursing team at St George's Hospital in Tooting, south London, helped to launch one of the first vaccination clinics in the world on December 8, 2020.

England's National Health Service has stressed that the offer of a vaccine is “evergreen” and more than 21,000 people came forward for their first jab on December 5.

A clinician prepares doses of the Moderna vaccine at a temporary centre in west London. AFP

The St George's vaccination clinic has seen people aged 12 to 101 getting their jabs, totalling 100,000 in a year.

“I went from running around finding staff to give leftover vaccine doses to at the end of the day instead of getting it myself, to being proud to have got my first, second and now booster jabs too,” she said.

“I understand those who are a little more hesitant, as that was me too, particularly for those that their hesitancy comes from a deep-rooted place or a fear of needles, but I'm always so happy to chat to anyone about how they're feeling about it.

“Getting the vaccine is quick, easy and not at all scary — I'd urge everyone to get it and to speak to a medical professional if they want to discuss anything they're concerned about.

“We're all here to help and there is no judgment. It's never too late to be vaccinated to give you the best protection this winter.”

Martin Kemp's Father Christmas is encouraging people to get vaccinated. NHS/PA

Musician and actor Martin Kemp has dressed up as Father Christmas for a festive film encouraging the public to get vaccinated against coronavirus this winter.

The video shows the actor and musician preparing for Christmas by booking an MOT safety test for his sleigh, polishing his boots and trimming his beard.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England's national medical director, has added his weight to the vaccination push.

He urges the public to get boosters and first jabs, as “vaccines are our main way out of this pandemic".

Updated: December 08, 2021, 1:36 PM