Ishbel MacAulay from Lewis had the first scheduled appointment at the COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Clinic at the Lewis Sports Centre in Stornoway today (Thursday January 21).

Ishbel, aged 80, is encouraging others to receive the vaccine, when invited, saying it was "very important" to get it. 

Around 460 people from across Lewis were invited to attend vaccination appointments at the Sports Centre today.

It was the first clinic held by NHS Western Isles in the Sports Centre, and NHS Western Isles is hugely grateful to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for the use of these premises and for their support in logistical arrangements. 

Today’s clinic provided appointments for those in the over-80 priority group, those aged over-75, and for a number of health and social care staff.  

Vaccinations will continue next week across the Western Isles, with additional clinics being planned in the Sports Centre.

Explaining that this was only the second time she has been out of the house since the original lockdown last March, Ishbel, from Sandwick in Lewis, said, “Because of my own health issues I was very keen to receive the vaccination.

“I had previously weighed up the pros and cons of getting it, and decided that as COVID is not going anywhere fast, I needed to get the vaccine to help myself and my family.  

"Previously I had lived abroad for a number of years so was quite used to having various vaccinations, so felt that this was nothing to worry about.  It really is just another injection and I’m happy that I’m doing my part to try to control this pandemic.  We all need to get back to normal and getting the vaccine will help us all.” 

Those attending the Vaccination Clinic are met by volunteers, made up of NHS Western Isles staff and colleagues from the local Coastguard, and Police Scotland.  Volunteers meet patients from the car park and direct them to the Clinic entrance, where they will then be met by NHS Western Isles staff before receiving their vaccination.  

Accompanying Mrs Macaulay was her daughter Leila Angus, who is employed by NHS Western Isles. Leila explained, “At present I am providing COVID testing on behalf of NHS Western Isles.  This, on top of providing care for my mother, means that I do worry about the possibility of her getting COVID.  I am delighted that my mother chose to receive the vaccination today and would urge others who are offered theirs to take it.” 

Also receiving the vaccine today was Stornoway South Councillor, Rae Mackenzie.  Rae commented: I would firstly like to say I am very grateful to NHS Western Isles. The clinic seems fantastically well organised in here. I didn’t expect to be getting my vaccination as quickly as I’m getting it. I would urge everybody eligible to have the vaccination when they are contacted.

“The Western Isles have done very well up until the unfortunate recent outbreak on Barra, and this just shows the importance of not travelling and taking precautions until everybody has been vaccinated and we are clear of this pandemic.”

NHS Western Isles Chief Executive Gordon Jamieson, said: “Firstly I must thank the staff and partners involved in planning and delivering our biggest vaccination clinic to date. This was no small task and has involved a great deal of planning and coordination.

"The success of today’s clinic is down to these staff and our partners in the Comhairle, the Coastguard, Police Scotland and FES, who all provided essential support, for which we are incredibly grateful. I would also thank all staff involved in the planning and delivery of all the vaccination clinics to date, including our local COVID Vaccination Group. This has been a huge team effort and has resulted in more than 3,000 people being vaccinated across the Western Isles to date.

“Secondly, I would thank everybody who has already attended a vaccination clinic, including everybody who attended today. By having the vaccine, you are not only giving yourself a level of protection, but are also taking an important step towards safeguarding our population and bringing this pandemic to an end as quickly as possible.”

Sports Facilities Manager Tony Wade said,“ We are keen to assist the NHS Vaccination programme in any way we can and we are pleased to be able to offer up the Lewis Sports Centre as a Vaccination Centre. Currently this will be the only sports facility being used but it is likely that more of our facilities will be made use of.  During these difficult times it is important we work together to ensure the Vaccination Programme is as successful as possible. I would also like to make it clear that we will be continuing to offer our current restricted gym services to the public through our online booking system. “

Social Care staff were a priority when distributing vaccinations and many Social Care staff have been vaccinated.  CnES Head of Community Care Jack Libby said, “The uptake from staff has been very good. The numbers of staff receiving the vaccine is continuing to increase, and we continue to encourage those remaining staff who are in the categories of those able to accept the vaccine, to make arrangements with their Health colleagues to have the vaccine.  Staff are aware that the vaccine plays a critical role in protecting vulnerable service users from COVID, and the safety and wellbeing of service users is the priority of all social care staff.” 

Captions, Top, Ishbel MacAulay receiving her vaccination from NHS Western Isles Occupational Health Nurse Janet Miskovic
Next, Coastguard 'Meet and Greet' Support Team
Stornoway South Councillor, Rae Mackenzie receiving his vaccination
NHS Western Isles Nurse Vaccination Team
(Additional comments from CnES have been added since this was first published)