NHS staff working across Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire to deliver the lifesaving coronavirus vaccine have been given a helping hand on the frontline by local fire crews, volunteers and military personnel.
Uniformed and volunteer colleagues have been lending support to the vaccine teams based at the new large vaccination centres in Bath and Salisbury, which opened their doors to patients earlier this week.
The new centres, located at Bath Racecourse and Salisbury City Hall, complement the 19 community-based vaccination sites, as well as the three hospital hubs, already up and running in the region, and offer people who are able to travel an additional, potentially faster, route to receiving the coronavirus vaccine.
Members of Avon Fire & Rescue Service have been on hand to support with marshalling at Bath Racecourse, while members of the Armed Forces have been working alongside their NHS colleagues at both sites to administer the vaccines.
Gill May, Director of Nursing and Quality, said: “The support we’ve received from our colleagues in uniform and community volunteers has been invaluable, and will only help us in our efforts to vaccinate as many people in our local area as possible.
“These new large vaccination centres have only been open for a few days, but the feedback we’ve had so far has been incredibly positive, and we look forward to welcoming more patients through the doors in the weeks ahead.”
Health and care workers, along with those aged over 80, are currently being prioritised for the vaccine and invitations are now being sent to those in the next priority group, which includes people aged between 70 and 79, and anyone classed as clinically extremely vulnerable.
People in these groups who have not yet been contacted have not been forgotten and will be communicated with in the coming weeks.
Any person who is invited to book an appointment at the large vaccination centres can choose to do so, or alternatively wait to receive an appointment at a more local GP-led vaccine clinic, if they have not already.
Patients are urged to make every effort to attend their vaccine appointment, and are reminded that current lockdown restrictions allow for friends and family to provide transportation to and from vaccine clinics.
David Hodges, Temporary Area Manager, Avon Fire & Rescue Service, said: “We are delighted to be able to support the rollout of the mass vaccination programme and provide assistance to our health and other emergency service colleagues.
“At the centre, we will be providing marshalling assistance, signposting our communities to where they need to go, ensuring social distancing is maintained and we will be monitoring general welfare in the immediate period after an individual has been vaccinated.
“We consider it a privilege to be able to help our communities and support our emergency service colleagues.”
Megan Muirhead, Leading Hand, Queen Alexandra Royal Naval Nursing Service, said: “It is something really positive that we have been able to come and support the NHS’ mission to deliver vaccinations to the people here in Salisbury.
“It also feels good to be working alongside the community volunteers and NHS staff who are working so hard and successfully to achieve the goal, and I feel privileged to be a small part of that.”
Further information about the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine, including a detailed list of frequently asked questions, can be found online at www.bswccg.nhs.uk.
More information about the vaccine itself can be found at www.nhs.uk.
Clinical Chair: Dr Andrew Girdher | Chief Executive: Tracey Cox