The Steam Museum in Swindon, along with the Corn Exchange in Devizes, took on very different roles this week as the iconic venues played host to hundreds of people eager to receive the lifesaving coronavirus vaccine.
Both venues, as well as Rowden Surgery in Chippenham and Combe Down Surgery near Bath, were transformed into local vaccination services, in which groups of GP practices worked together to provide the vaccine to patients over the age of 80.
More than 900 people at each site are expected to have been given the recently-approved Covid-19 vaccination by the end of this week.
All patients will have to return for the second dose of the vaccine in approximately three weeks.
Eighty-six-year-old Richard Conroy from Devizes was the Corn Exchange’s first recipient of the vaccine at approximately 8.30am on Wednesday 16 December.
Speaking afterwards, Mr Conroy said: “I was invited by my GP last Wednesday, which was my birthday. The surgery sent me an email then I phoned to make the appointment.
“I feel absolutely marvellous, it’s a pretty good feeling to get the vaccine. Everyone should have the jab when it is offered.”
The four community vaccination sites are the first to go live in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire, with other venues elsewhere in the region expected to follow suit in the coming weeks.
At this stage in the vaccination programme, only those people aged 80 and over, as well as some frontline health and care staff, will be invited to receive the vaccine.
Over the coming weeks and months, other members of the community will have the opportunity to get vaccinated.
The community vaccinations come just a week after the Great Western Hospital in Swindon became the first local venue to offer the vaccine to staff and patients.
Gill May, Director of Nursing and Quality, said: “Never before has there been a vaccination programme as ambitious as this, and it really is humbling to have been able to see everything come together so quickly and efficiently. “These community sites are among the first of their kind, and I know that NHS teams Clinical Chair: Dr Andrew Girdher | Chief Executive Officer: Tracey Cox
in other areas of the country will be looking to us as they arrange their own vaccination programmes.
“We all know there is a long way to go until we can confidently say that coronavirus is no longer a threat, but we’ve taken the first steps, and it’s important to remember that even the most intimidating of journeys start with that first step forward.”
Local people are reminded not to attend any of the community vaccination sites, nor their local hospitals or GP practices, without having been invited to do so.
More information about the coronavirus vaccine can be found online at www.nhs.uk.