A large number of residents have contacted me in recent weeks suggesting various locations as possible vaccination hubs. While I certainly want to see more localised centres set up, the question as to where we can place them isn’t as simple as it might first seem.
There’s a range of safety criteria that first needs to be met, not least to facilitate social distancing before, during and after someone has received their dose, as well as complex logistical challenges around the delivery, storage and administering of the vaccine. For example, the Pfizer vaccine has to be kept at very low temperatures, can only be moved four times, and once defrosted must be used that day. Although many premises may on the face of it seem suitable, taking all of these factors into consideration together, very few in fact are. I included a more detailed explanation in my update on 14th January:
I have been pressing the South East London Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), who are managing this process in our area, to explore all options locally. With the above in mind, two venues strike me as possible solutions: St Edward’s Church in Mottingham and Christ Church Chislehurst. Both have had their traditional pews removed and have stackable seating, so have large, high ceilinged, open plan spaces which can be organised for a one-way system. They have on-site parking, separate entrances and exits, are wheelchair accessible, and have large enough catchment areas to make deliveries of the vaccine logistically viable. Both have put themselves forward as options to the CCG and I have asked its senior management to consider them fully. I hope to receive an update on this shortly.
Having last week been asked to have a rapid COVID-19 test at the Civic Centre and been invited to the vaccine hub at Community House, I have seen for myself the systems in place and had the opportunity to speak to staff. I was really impressed by the swift, efficient and friendly service I saw at both. The fantastic clinicians and volunteers working at them are doing everything they can to ensure their smooth running and I am pleased to say that medics are using a reserve list to make sure any unused doses do not go to waste. Where problems remain, for example with parking and queuing outside the hub, I have raised these with the CCG. Please keep to any appointments you are invited to but do not arrive overly early as this is one of the reasons the hub is experiencing these problems.
As of yesterday, 6,853,327 people in the UK have received their first dose. In Bromley, we remain on target to vaccinate all health and social care workers, all over 70s and all those deemed clinically extremely vulnerable by mid-February. Every care home in Bromley has now been vaccinated and since Monday the same mobile vaccine teams have begun vaccinating housebound patients unable to visit one of the hubs. Practices will be contacting patients over the coming weeks to organise a home visit for those in this category. If you have not yet been invited for an appointment or been contacted for a home visit, please do not worry. You have not been missed off the list and will hear from the NHS shortly. Our local health teams are under immense pressure and are working incredibly hard for all of us. Please be patient and do not contact your GP to chase a vaccine appointment.
I will continue to do everything I can to help ensure the vaccine rollout in Bromley is as smooth and efficient as possible, and will post a further update as soon as I have any more news. If you have a query you want to raise with me, please email me rather than getting in touch via Facebook or Twitter so I can ensure it is definitely picked up.