A HERO doctor has spoken for the first time after he braved flames to save 1,000 precious Covid jabs from being destroyed in a fire at a vaccination hub.
GP Richard Strickland, 49, spent two minutes hauling a giant fridge holding the vaccines from the burning Emerbrook Community Centre in Thames Ditton on Saturday.
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His brave actions mean the town’s vaccination programme is back in full swing just days after the roof of the health centre was ravaged by flames.
The doctor, who has served the close-knit stockbroker-belt community of Thames Ditton in Surrey for 20 years, today restarted delivering doses of the Astrazeneca jab he saved today.
He said: “We’ve not cancelled a single vaccine. Even the few patients that didn’t get their vaccine on Saturday afternoon have been booked for Friday this week.
“The overwhelming thing for me is the community effort and the massive amount of help from volunteers.
“It has been really uplifting. It has provided lots of comfort and reassurance to elderly and vulnerable people."
Dr Strickland said around 1,000 doses had been saved from the blaze over the weekend, with the dedicated doc going into the building with a fireman to get the supply.
Dismissing his own bravery, he said: “The fire crew were unbelievable.
“They were there within five minutes of the alarm being raised.
“They made every effort to use minimal water and they went in to get oxygen equipment.
“I didn’t dash in on my own accord. They said it would be fine and I was accompanied by one of the firemen.”
He today started to deliver doses of the vaccine today at Thames Ditton Community Centre.
It is being used as the town’s vaccine hub until repairs are made to the Emerbrook Centre building.
Doctor Strickland’s surgery in the same building as the Emberbrook centre wasn’t damaged by the fire and is operating as usual.
People waiting to get their jab had been forced to run from the building about 3.30pm on Saturday afternoon as smoke poured from the roof.
Six fire engines attended the scene of the fire, which started in the sloped roof of the building.
Doctor Strickland didn’t want to speak about his own selfless heroic actions of the weekend.
But he praised staff at his surgery, firefighters and volunteers for helping him get the jab hub back and running so quickly following the blaze.
Doctor Strickland has delivered thousands of doses of the Astrazeneca and Pfizer jabs since his surgery’s vaccination programme began just before Christmas.
His surgery is already on to vaccinating the sixth cohort of people eligible for the Covid-19 jab.
The sixth cohort is made up of people 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions like obesity, which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality.
'PROTECT THE VULNERABLE'
Doctor Strickland called on people to take up appointments for the vaccine if they get offered one so that lockdown restrictions can soon be eased.
He said: “Coronavirus is an illness that anyone can get, but there are some that are more severely affected by it.
“You might not be in a vulnerable group but you might get ill still. Lockdown is all about protecting those vulnerable people.
“If we want to be caring and protect our vulnerable friends and neighbours and get lockdown over as soon as possible, we need to get vaccinated.
Doctor Strickland and his team are also delivering the jab to the elderly in care homes and people with learning disabilities who can’t make it to vaccination centres themselves.
More than 15million jabs have been administered so far in the fight against Covid.
And early data has revealed the vaccination programme is already having an effect on the death toll.
It comes after the PM announced yesterday that he wanted Britain's current lockdown to be the last as he prepares his roadmap to ease Covid measures on Monday.
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