Posted: 16.01.21 at 02:33 by By Graham Hill
• Vaccinations are taking place at a rate of one every four minutes
• The aim is to vaccinate the over-70s age group by the end of February
• Volunteers and stewards help to run the centre quickly and efficiently
• The plan is for individual surgeries to administer the vaccine, but not yet
• The site will run seven days a week for several months
• Patients in the Coalville area can access taxi firms offering free trips to Measham
The North West Leicestershire Vaccination Centre in Measham saw its first patients on Friday and Ashby Nub News was invited to see how well the system is working.
Measham Leisure Centre will be offering Covid jabs for the next few months - with the over-80s group the first to be vaccinated.
In what will be a seven days a week operation, the plan is to vaccinate all over-70s in the district by mid-to-late February.
What is obvious is the ease in which people are able to arrive at the centre, check in, be vaccinated, wait 15 minutes and use a one-way system to exit the building. There are also stewards at the entrance showing you where to park.
We spoke to the Clinical Director at North West Leicestershire Primary Care Network, Dr Kirk Moore, about the organisation of such a huge task and what patients arriving at Measham will need to know.
Staff were vaccinated on Thursday with patients arriving on Friday. How did the first day go?
We feel very excited that we’ve opened today (Friday) for patients for the first time, we will be having over-80s attending for the next few days, and when we complete that cohort of patients, will be working seven days out of the site because we want to get through patients as quickly and safely as possible so that they can get vaccinated.
It is a seven day operation then?
At the moment yes, it's dependent on vaccine delivery. When the vaccine arrives we have willing and keen staff who can vaccinate patients in North West Leicestershire and protect them.
There is no problem with the supply of the vaccine?
Not at the moment, we’re on day two, and it’s gone smoothly so far.
What are the vaccines you can use here?
There are two vaccines here. We have the Pfizer vaccine. We do have the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine, and we are going to use that first to use our to vaccinate our staff and residents in care homes from next week.
What is the procedure when people arrive here?
More importantly, it starts before then. Practices have highlighted patients who are in the over-80s age group. They’ve contacted those patients and they go through a checklist. They can then book an appointment online. We have an appointment system so that each practice has its fair share of patients that will come here each day. They are then informed what day they can come down and they are checked in to make sure their details are correct. They are then marshalled through safely and we have them in time gaps to make sure people are social distancing which is very important.
We are running through vaccinations at one every four minutes, that’s to allow for social distancing. They then comes to the vaccination station where again they are checked to make sure it’s safe for them to have a vaccine. They consent to that and are then given the vaccine by a trained vaccinator. They have to sit and wait for 15 minutes afterwards, if it’s the Pfizer vaccine they are having, They are then guided out and we have a one-way system once again to make sure of social distancing.
What hours is the centre open?
We are vaccinating from 8.30 in the morning, until 5.30 in the evening. How many people we can vaccinate depends on how many vaccinators we have on site. They’re also working at surgeries and coming here to volunteer their time to provide that service. We have people working here for free and coming in on their days off to get a patient vaccinated.
What’s the response been like to your call for volunteers?
We have a rota for vaccinator administrators and volunteers. We have some on site now, there are marshals and observers who watch the patients for 15 minutes after the vaccination. We had an unbelievable response, we could fill the rota three times over. That’s fantastic but we’re also happy to have more people who want to come and join in and help build a brighter future after the vaccines allows us to return to normal.
All the staff here seem very friendly?
We’ve had lots of really nice comments so far, we’ve had people who visited other vaccination centres and said they think ours is very friendly, well-organised and a very smooth operation, we're doing it in a very quick and safe way.
How long do you think it will take to vaccinate the first age groups?
Our aim, is to get everybody over 70 vaccinated by mid-to-the-end of February. We can’t always guarantee these things of course. We plan to do things at scale and try get all the vaccinations done as quickly and safely.
But you are looking at this facility being open for several months?
Yes, absolutely. We have the two vaccines and the problem with the Pfizer is that it's a vaccine that it can’t be transported once it arrives at a site. It can’t then be taken anywhere else. At some point, we think will be able to transfer the AstraZeneca vaccine to individual practices at some point. Those could then be a normal flu-type clinic.
People are asking why they can’t be vaccinated at their local practice now?
The Pfizer vaccine, which can’t be transported, is the majority we have at the moment. It’s got very strict regulations about what needs to happen. We have a team here just managed the Pfizer vaccine. But once we get more AstraZeneca delivered, we will start with care homes first, vulnerable age people and people who are housebound. When they’re done, and we hopefully become more confident with the AstraZeneca vaccine, and then it might be able to go out to practices. We’re just not there yet.
If you live in the Coalville area, why is it that you have to go to Measham?
We looked at several sites. And Measham was the best one. We were offered the Hermitage Leisure Centre in Whitwick. But the configuration of that site did not allow patients to social distance as well as this one does. We appreciate that, geographically, it’s a little bit out of the way, but the eventual aim is that it is your own practice will deliver the AstraZeneca vaccine. We hope that will be the solution in the near future.
Is that right that some taxi firms are offering free trips to the Measham Centre?
Yes, it’s fantastic and the two that I know of are ADT, Coalville Yellow Cabs and CK Cars. They are running a free taxi service. Which is just fantastic, because that allows patients to get here where there is no bus service from Coalville to Measham. There’s been a real sense of community service around this. We have lots of people volunteering and offers for help from different areas. It’s just brilliant to see. If it allows people who might struggle to be able to get here and get a vaccine - and they are protected and safe - that is fantastic news. We are absolutely thrilled that that service has been offered.
But everything that’s happening here is great news isn’t it?
The really important thing is that we encourage people to come and get the vaccines. It’s a really smooth operation here and really well organised. We have a friendly team, with trained people doing the vaccinating. The most important thing is that the patients get the phone call from their practice to say yes you can come and get your vaccine and then we can are then we can all return to normal as quickly as possible.