An NHS vaccination centre is set to open in Northampton on Monday (January 25) which has the capacity to provide a jab for thousands of people a week.
The centre, which has been setup at the Royal Pavilion building in Moulton Park, will aim to provide an Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine to the top groups of people the government has outlined as a priority for mid-February.
Chris Pallot, director of the Northampton vaccination centre programme, said it is the biggest rollout the NHS has ever delivered and that it is a privilege to be a part of.
He said: “It’s a huge privilege to be a part of this because I, like everyone else, have completely had enough in lockdown. To put a light at the end of the tunnel is a great privilege. It has been humbling to see how many hands have gone up to help.
“Our local vaccination services have already vaccinated many thousands of the people who need it most across Northamptonshire – and the launch of our new vaccination centre will give us the capacity to vaccinate thousands more each week as the national vaccination campaign is stepped up and supply increases.
“We do know this vaccine will stop people becoming very sick and that is the most important thing. In time, this is our way towards the end of this terrible journey.
“This is on a bigger scale, but it is very similar to the flu jab rollout. We are hoping it will be a very slick process.”
When asked if there will be enough vaccines for everyone, Mr Pallot said: “We have been assured there will be sufficient vaccines for the mid-February target.”
Mr Pallot also gave thanks to all those involved in the ‘titanic’ effort of making the vaccination centre a reality.
He said: ” We’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone involved – in particular the staff and volunteers who will be running the service. Everyone has come together to join in with this titanic effort.
“I would like to give a heartfelt thanks to the people of Northampton for the support they are giving to the NHS and I would ask them to bare with us while we complete the biggest programme we have ever delivered.
“We very much look forward to welcoming the first patients to their booked appointments.”
Anna Dorothy, deputy of the vaccination programme, reassured the public of the vaccine’s safety.
She said: “It has been extensively trialed across a short period of time and it has an excellent safety record so far. Its risks are far outweighed by the benefits.”
She went on to say people can expect to be in and out of the centre within 10 minutes.
“It’s a large facility that will be able to get high numbers through the doors. We want to get people in and out in about 10 minutes but we are aiming to improve that all the time.
“We are confident we can achieve the mid-Feb target. We’re really excited about getting up and running next week.”
The centre will be staffed by clinicians, non-registered vaccinators, administrative staff and marshals who will help make a visit to the centre run as smoothly and safely as possible.
Rachel Westwood, chief pharmacist at NGH and lead pharmacist for the county vaccine service, said more than 2,000 people have volunteered to help out at the centre.
She said: “We have a robust training programme for the people who are going to be administering the vaccines.
“Volunteers who are not health care professionals can administer the vaccine. We would like to thank those volunteers who have come forward. It’s a really exciting thing for people to be a part of.
“It has been a real privilege to be a part of this. It has been an amazing opportunity for me to work with colleagues across the system and it’s immensely satisfying when I see people receiving the vaccine.”
Dr Sanjay Gadhia, a county GP and joint clinical programme lead, wanted to remind people that the NHS will get in touch with them about receiving a vaccine.
He said: “We are continuing to remind people in Northamptonshire that they will be contacted by the NHS when it is their turn to be vaccinated.
“You may receive a letter inviting you to book an appointment at our new vaccination centre or you may be contacted by your GP with an invitation to attend another local vaccination service near you. Either way, you will receive full details of how to book your appointment and where you need to go.”
Over its first few days of operation, the new centre will be building up and testing its systems to be able to operate seven days a week from 8am to 8pm. The testing period is essential to ensure everything is in place to operate at full capacity.
For those unable to reach the vaccination centre, there will be a roving team who will go door-to-door issuing an injection.
Around 5 million people in the UK have been vaccinated so far as of Friday, January 22.