More coronavirus vaccination centres began seeing patients today (29 December), with facilities opening in North Devon and Exeter.
Two centres run by local GPs opened their doors in Barnstaple and Exeter while North Devon District Hospital will joined the network of hospital hubs delivering vaccinations.
At North Devon District Hospital, in Barnstaple, patients aged 80 and above who are already attending hospital as an outpatient will be among those offered the vaccine and any appointments not used for priority groups will be used for healthcare workers who are at highest risk of serious illness from COVID-19.
Andrea Bell, Interim Director of Nursing and Mass Vaccination lead at Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “We welcome the news that the vaccine has arrived. We will start vaccinating the most vulnerable first at North Devon District Hospital.”
Among those receiving a vaccination today was 90-year-old Hector Delbridge, who said: “I was seeing the specialist today and then I came down for the vaccine – it was like two birds with one stone. The vaccine will be a relief to everybody.”
Separately to the hospital, a new vaccination site, hosted in Barnstaple Leisure Centre, is being run
by staff from local GP practices.
Dr Sophia Erdozain, GP at Litchdon Medical Centre in Barnstaple said: “We are pleased to be able to offer the coronavirus vaccination here in North Devon and we have 14 GP surgeries who quickly worked together over the last few weeks with great dedication, skill and efficiency to ensure that these life-changing vaccinations are delivered to our communities.
“From this week we are holding clinics in the Barnstaple Leisure Centre where we can provide the vaccines in a safe and socially distanced way. We have had a lot of local support and would like to thank North Devon Council and Lex Leisure for working with us so we could use the Leisure Centre and a thank you to the Bowling Club for giving up their space for us.
“We have volunteer marshals from the Barnstaple Rotary and Rotary Link and the Ilfracombe Round Table and we would like to thank them for their time. We also thank Barnstaple Shopmobility and Age Concern for providing us with wheelchairs.
“Lastly we would like to thank all those who have been waiting patiently to be contacted for their invitation. We are working through our patient lists in priority order, as set out in the national guidance, and will make contact with everyone who is eligible in due course.”
In Exeter a vaccination site run by GP practices will open in the Mount Pleasant Health Centre, providing vaccinations to eligible groups from the Mount Pleasant, Central Exeter, Heavitree, South Lawn, ISCA and Hill Barton practices.
Dr Paul Hynam, GP at Mount Pleasant Medical Centre in Exeter said: “The team are really pleased to be able offer the coronavirus vaccine to our patients from this week.
“I would like to say a big thank you to the staff who have worked tirelessly to make this happen. Thanks also to the enthusiastic group of volunteers who are giving up their time to support the vaccination clinics.”
Local people are still being reminded not to contact their practice or hospital to ask about an appointment – the NHS will contact you when it’s your turn.
The latest centres to start appointments bring the total number run by GPs to 16, with more due to open soon to ensure everyone who is eligible can receive a vaccine.
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