A Swansea grandmother who was the first baby born under the NHS more than 70 years ago has thanked its staff for still delivering an excellent service after receiving her Covid vaccinations.
Aneira Thomas was named after the founder of the then-new National Health Service, Aneurin Bevan, and made headlines across the country when she arrived at one minute past midnight on 5th July, 1948, at Glanamman hospital in West Wales.
The 72-year-old, who has anaphylaxis, has spent most of her adult life championing the NHS after doctors saved her life on eight occasions along with helping both her children overcome brain haemorrhages.
Aneira, who went on to become a nurse, has now praised Swansea Bay UHB’s vaccination programme after receiving her second dose at its Mass Vaccination Centre in Canolfan, Gorseinon.
She said: “I’ve just had my second jab and want to say thank you to everyone.
“The staff at the vaccination centre were wonderful. They were very informative and kind. They know everyone is on pins initially, waiting to have the vaccine, so they are very reassuring.
“It went very well although I lost sleep over having the vaccine initially because I suffer from a severe allergic reaction to various drugs. I thought deeply about it but decided I had to give it a try.
“I also spoke to my GP and he assured me that I shouldn’t be allergic to this vaccine. He put my mind to rest and was proved to be right.”
Aneira, who has written a book, entitled Hold on Edna!, after her mother who waited to make sure she was born the right side of midnight to become the first NHS baby, is now keen to encourage others who are uncertain about being vaccinated.
She said: “My message to anyone who is hesitant is, have the vaccine. We don’t know what the future holds, we don’t know when Covid-19 will end, or if it will ever end with more variants around.
“We owe it to our children and our communities to get vaccinated and protect others.I felt it was my duty after all the country has done for us.
“The way the researchers and scientists have pulled it together has saved the nation. They have been amazing.
“It’s a team effort. Not only the health professionals but all the key workers across the country have kept us alive.
“I feel we led the way in 1948, and now we are leading the way once more. NHS staff are doing what they have always done, putting our lives before their own, and having the vaccine is lessening the load for already overstretched services. We owe them a debt.”
Aneira said the “phenomenal” NHS brought her into the world 72 years ago and was still looking after her – and the entire nation.
“The NHS touches all our lives at some point. It has saved my life. I have been rushed in with blues lights eight or nine times, and both my children had brain haemorrhages.
“It has seen us through some very difficult times but my daughter has made a full recovery, and is working for the NHS now as a paramedic, and my son is also doing okay.
“From the surgeons to the intensive care nurses, down to the porters and tea ladies and cleaners, everyone has played their part in our wellbeing. I am in awe of them all. They are truly amazing.”
Emma Crowther, a clinical lead on the Covid-19 immunisation programme, said: “Staff here at Gorseinon always feel that being involved in the mass vaccination programme is a real privilege.
“Having Aneira, the first NHS baby, here today to complete her COVID-19 vaccinations, reminds us of the extraordinary range of services our NHS provides.”