Curtain up on latest sites to begin giving lifesaving coronavirus vaccination across Devon

People in more areas of Devon will begin receiving the coronavirus vaccination in coming days as six more GP-run centres open across the county.

The latest centres to start appointments bring the total number to 14, with more due to open soon to ensure everyone who is eligible can receive a vaccine.

GP practices are working in groups to set up the local vaccination centres, with the 14 centres serving 85 of the county’s surgeries.

As well as using NHS locations like surgeries, some local vaccination centres are being opened in more unusual venues. Among the next six to open is a vaccination centre at Plymouth Pavilions which will serve 23 practices in the city. 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 open in Devon are:
• Beacon, Plympton
• Clare House, Tiverton
• Dawlish Community Hospital
• Holsworthy Medical Centre
• The Pavilions, Plymouth
• St Leonard’s Practice, Exeter

The centres in Dawlish and Plympton are due to start vaccinating on Monday (21 December) with the others beginning today (Friday) and Saturday. Dr Rosalind Wardle, senior partner at Ruby Country Medical Group in Holsworthy, said: “We are really pleased that from Saturday we will be able to offer this lifesaving vaccine to people in our local communities. “Our teams have been working day and night to ensure we are ready to start vaccinating people as soon as our delivery of the vaccine arrives.

“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.”

Dr Elizabeth Cowan, GP at Barton Surgery in Dawlish, added: “Being able to offer the coronavirus vaccination here in Dawlish is very exciting. Not only does it allow us to provide a much-needed service to our patients locally, but also the ability to tailor the service to meet the needs of our community.

“The Dawlish and Teignmouth GP surgeries are working very closely with the team at Dawlish Hospital to set up the service and it has been an excellent opportunity to all work together.

“Everyone has really pulled out all the stops to get things set up so quickly and we know our community are really going to benefit from all the hard work that has already gone into, and will continue to go into running the vaccination delivery programme.”

At Plymouth Pavilions, the vaccination centre will use the ice rink reception and parts of the ice rink arena. Plymouth Pavilions chief executive officer, Sarah Phillips said: “During the global fight against coronavirus we’ve seen so many people and organisations going above and beyond to do their part wherever possible, we’re so pleased to be in a position where we can now take our turn by offering our unique building out as a vaccination centre.”

The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is complicated to deliver, with each site needing to meet stringent requirements on freezer storage, adequate space for patient observation areas post-vaccine, staffing levels to maintain safety and normal general practice activity, and capacity to run centres seven days a week, as needed.

The measures mean that not all health locations can be used to deliver the vaccine, but the NHS in Devon is working hard to open more centres around the county.

The centres see nurses, paramedics, pharmacists and other NHS staff working alongside doctors to vaccinate people aged over 80 and care home workers, who have been identified as priority groups for a life-saving vaccination.

The eight sites* that began vaccinating patients earlier this week included Exmouth Tennis and Fitness Centre where among the first to receive their injection were Jean Copeland, 89, and Jim Copeland, 90, of Exmouth. They said: “We’re really pleased to have had the vaccination and people should have it. We don’t want the virus, especially at our age, it’s killed enough people.”