No need to go to the races: Devon’s mass vaccine centres open next week

East Devon has one of the oldest populations in the Country (if not the oldest) so must pose one of the country’s biggest vaccination challenges.

9% of the population is over 80, 6% of the population is aged 75 – 79 and 8% are in the 70 – 74 bracket. In total 23% are over 70. (Comparable figures for Inner London are 2.5%, 1.7% and 2.4% – total 6.6%).

So Owl is pleased to see that Exeter is now getting a mass vaccination centre which will be a lot easier for East Devon residents to get to than Taunton racecourse.

The NHS has confirmed that two mass vaccine centres will be opening in Devon next week.

Anita Merritt www.devonlive.com

Event venue Westpoint in Exeter, and The Mayflower Grandstand at Plymouth Argyle Football Club’s Home Park Stadium will be welcoming their first booked appointments to people aged 80 and above from next Tuesday, January 26.

The two new large-scale vaccination centres will enable thousands more vaccinations to be given every week in Devon, and will 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.

Westpoint will be managed by the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E). 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.

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.”

Steve Brown, director of Public Health at Devon County Council, added: “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 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 Hospital.

A reminder has been issued that there is no need to contact the NHS for a vaccination as people will be invited when it is their turn and people cannot get vaccinated by just turning up.

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.

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 it.

North Devon District Hospital is scaling up clinics to vaccinate frontline health and social care workers from across the northern Devon area, with around 7,000 vaccinations expected over the next few weeks.