The NHS in Devon is making final preparations ready to welcome the first patients to two new large-scale Vaccination Centres from 26 January.
The Mayflower Grandstand at Plymouth Argyle Football Club’s Home Park Stadium, and exhibition and event venue Westpoint Exeter will be hosting their first booked appointments to people aged 80 and above from next Tuesday.
The Home Park and Westpoint Exeter sites mean thousands more vaccinations will be given every week in Devon and provide local people have a wider choice of options when they receive their invitation for an appointment.
Anyone who cannot or does not want to travel to one of the sites can be vaccinated by their local GP service.
Nobody needs to contact the NHS, as people will be invited when it is their turn and people cannot get vaccinated by just turning up.
Darryn Allcorn, Lead Chief Nurse for Devon and Chief Nurse at Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “This is great news for people in Devon. These two new sites will deliver thousands of vaccinations each week and everyone is working tirelessly to get the sites ready. I’d like to thank them for everything they have done and continue to do.”
The Home Park site will be managed by University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust, which runs the city’s Derriford Hospital. Plymouth Argyle FC has been supporting the NHS since the beginning of the pandemic, with the Mayflower Grandstand temporarily hosting health services such as phlebotomy and antenatal services to relieve pressure on Derriford.
Argyle Chief Executive Officer Andrew Parkinson said: “We are delighted to have once again been able to offer up Home Park to assist with the fight to end the coronavirus pandemic.”
Sue Wilkins, Director of Mass Vaccination and Testing for University Hospitals Plymouth NHS Trust said: “We are hugely grateful to everyone who has enabled us to get to this point, including our hosts at Plymouth Argyle.
“Please wait until you receive a letter before attending the site; this will happen for everyone who has not had a vaccination at another venue in due course. When you receive a letter it will give you the choice of coming to the centre for your vaccination and explain how to book.”
Plymouth City Council is supporting the project, identifying a site with plenty of parking and arranging signage, marshals, security support and traffic management.
The council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care Kate Taylor said: “All those involved have worked flat out to get this site up and running and here at Plymouth City Council we will be enormously glad to see the site open and operating.”
Westpoint Exeter will be managed by the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E), which runs the city’s Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.
Suzanne Tracey, Chief Executive of the RD&E and Northern Devon Healthcare Trust said: “If you are invited to attend an appointment here, I can reassure you that measures are in place to keep everyone safe, and our brilliant staff and volunteers will look after you while you’re with us.”
Richard Maunder, Chief Executive at Westpoint Exeter, said: “The Devon County Agricultural Association is delighted to be supporting the national effort whilst also helping our local community.”
Steve Brown, Director of Public Health at Devon County Council, said: “We’re very proud to be part of this key project. Vaccination is the way of out lockdown and the pandemic and the new centre in Exeter will give us more capacity to vaccinate local people in the weeks and months to come.”
The site was established by the NHS with support from a team of volunteers from Network Rail, whose volunteers also pitched in to help set up the NHS Nightingale Hospital in Exeter last year.
Appointments, which are offered by letter via a nationally-run booking system, are staggered to allow for social distancing and people are urged not to turn up early to avoid queues.
If anyone invited has received a jab since the letter was sent out or would prefer to wait to be invited to attend a hospital or GP service they can simply ignore it.
In northern Devon, vaccinations are taking place at GP-led centres in Barnstaple and Holsworthy as well as North Devon District Hospital. The site at Barnstaple Leisure Centre, which is capable of vaccinating a similar number of people to the large-scale Vaccination Centres, can be scaled up as further supplies come in, with around 8,000 vaccinations expected over the next week.
Two pharmacy sites will also begin delivering vaccinations to northern Devon residents in the coming days.
The Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, which is easier to transport and store, is also enabling GPs to run day clinics at selected individual practice sites in northern Devon and across the county, to bring vaccination facilities closer to people in places where the location of the local vaccination centre makes it difficult for people to access.
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