Timetable and further details of current stage of Devon’s Covid vaccination programme

Further details about the two mass vaccination sites that have been identified to deliver the Covid-19 vaccine in Devon have been unveiled – with one to be in Plymouth and one in Exeter.

Daniel Clark sidmouth.nub.news 

Darryn Allcorn, Chief Nurse at the Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, told Thursday’s Team Devon Local Outbreak Engagement Board meeting that two sites have been secured in the county to deliver vaccines en masse to the population early in 2021.

One site will be in Plymouth – the exact location to be announced next week once contracts are signed, he said.

The second will be in Exeter, and agreement from NHS England for the location has been reached, so further conversations with the site owner are now taking place.

Vaccinations in the county have begun after Derriford Hospital received 975 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, with Mr Allcorn saying that 55 people were vaccinated on Tuesday along with 90 on Wednesday.

Another 830 vaccinations are set to be carried out by midday on Saturday, after which the next batch will be delivered.

What other sites will be giving the vaccine – and when?

He stated that on Friday, the first eight primary care sites in Devon to receive the vaccine would be announced, with each of them to receive 975 doses of the vaccine, with vaccinations to begin on December 14 and 15, with a further 21 sites to become active in the New Year, if not beforehand.

On the large-scale mass vaccination sites, Mr Allcorn said that one would be in Plymouth and one in Exeter, and they hoped to confirm publically the locations next week, with the sites more likely to be administering the Oxford vaccine, which does not need to be stored at -70C like the Pfizer jab does, if and when it is approved for use.

Cllr Andrew Leadbetter, vice-chairman of the Board, asked what the plans were for the Northern part of Devon, if the mass vaccination centre were in the south of the county.

Mr Allcorn said: “We will be working with primary care teams to have a model where we can bring a slightly larger site to North Devon. The challenge is the geographical isolation, so once we can transport it, we will go to the flu vaccine model and deliver it to people as close as possible to their home, and the Northern teams up for that model.”

Dr Paul Johnson, chair of the Devon CCG, added: “The vaccination programme is up and running and given the numbers of over 80s who are getting Covid-19 and that they are the highest risk group so targeting them is the right priority.”

What’s the Covid infection rate now?

The Board heard that Devon had seen a decline in the number of coronavirus cases confirmed over recent weeks, but that decline had stared to slow down and stabilise.

Simon Chant, Public Health Specialist, said that the latest infection rate for the county was 75.7 per 100,000, half the English average, but the rate for Devon was now higher than both Plymouth (46.5) and Torbay (36.7), areas that had seen a higher peak but a much faster drop.

Mr Chant said that the county was seeing a gradual increase cases being confirmed in the 80+ age group, which was seen by outbreaks in care home and hospital settings, and that was skewed to those 90+, but the infection rates were starting to stabilise and were decreasing, while the 0-19 age range had the lowest current infection rates.

Across the county, East Devon and West Devon were the areas with the highest current infection rates based on the seven-day rolling average covering the period of specimens between December 1 and 7, with South Hams and Teignbridge the lowest.

Dr Phil Norrey, Devon County Council’s chief executive, confirmed that the decision will be taken by Government on what happens in terms of the Tier system on December 16, with it being announced on December 17.

He added: “We will know next Thursday whether Devon continues in Tier 2 or moves up or down. It is extremely unlikely to move up, but we have no idea if it will move down.”

Dr Norrey added: “The vaccinations news is not a signal for people to lower their guard and the virus will remain in the community for months to come.”

Cllr James McInnes, cabinet member for children’s services, added: “I am starting to worry about people lowering their guard because the vaccine is coming. We need to incorporate the message to people to welcome the vaccine but also to keep yourself well so you will actually be able to take the vaccine.”