Exeter COVID-19 Vaccination Centre opens to the public

26 Jan 2021

From today, exhibition and event venue Westpoint Exeter is offering its first booked appointments to people in priority groups.

The new site is one of six launching across the South West today, including the Mayflower Grandstand at Plymouth Argyle Football Club’s Home Park Stadium, bringing the national total to 50.

The Westpoint and Home Park sites mean thousands more vaccinations will 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.

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. Anyone who cannot or does not want to travel to one of the sites can be vaccinated by their local GP service. Nobody needs to contact the NHS, as people will be invited when it is their turn and people cannot get vaccinated by just turning up.

Centres are staffed by specially trained vaccinators and support staff, with help from dozens of volunteers, with more being sought to help out in coming weeks.

The Exeter COVID-19 Vaccination Centre is being managed by the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust (RD&E), which runs the city’s Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.

Suzanne Tracey, Chief Executive of the RD&E and Northern Devon Healthcare Trust said: “Hundreds of people from different sectors have worked tirelessly to bring this centre together at a remarkable speed, and I’d like to thank each and every one of them for helping us to protect our communities against COVID-19.

“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.

“Although there is light at the end of the tunnel, cases of COVID-19 in the community remain high, and so it’s really important that we continue to observe the national lockdown, staying at home unless for work, exercise or essential activities.”

Darryn Allcorn, Lead Chief Nurse for Devon and Chief Nurse at Devon Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Every time someone in Devon is vaccinated, it brings us a small step closer to the end of the pandemic.

“These two new sites will deliver thousands of vaccinations each week, initially bringing reassurance, safety and peace of mind for those receiving the jab, and in time, when restrictions are lifted, the confidence and safety to get back to normal life.

“Well done and thank you to everyone who has worked so hard to make these sites happen in such a short space of time.”

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.

Nick Millington, Network Rail’s director of Safety taskforce, said: “It was immensely rewarding to have helped build the Nightingale Hospital in Exeter last year and to see so many colleagues pull together again in a similar fashion speaks volumes of the selfless individuals who have contributed their time to get this vaccination facility up and running.”

Staff from Exeter Chiefs are volunteering as marshals and stewards at Westpoint.

Aron Struminski, Community Development Manager for the Exeter Chiefs, said: "As a club we know how much we rely on our local community for support. Now, when the community needs us to step up, we want to help give back a little ourselves and that is why we are delighted that a number of our staff at Sandy Park have stepped up to volunteer at the new Exeter vaccination centre."

If members of the public want to volunteer to be part of the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history, volunteer stewards and marshals are needed to support our local sites at Westpoint. They will help manage patient flow and direct people as required.

The volunteering itself is flexible – shifts are four hours long and there is no minimum commitment. Volunteers can choose their shifts and work more than one shift in a row, if they so wish. The times of the shifts are 8am-12pm, 12pm-4pm, and 4pm-8pm, seven days per week.

To register, fill in a simple application form.

A short video about getting the Vaccination Centre up and running at Westpoint has been produced by Devon CCG, and is available to watch below.

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