Mass vaccination centre opens in Preston shopping centre

One of the largest mass vaccination centres in Lancashire opened yesterday in Preston city centre.

Friday, 19th February 2021, 7:00 am

Over several weeks, round-the-clock efforts have been made to turn the former B&M Bargains shop in St John's Shopping Centre into an eight-bay vaccination centre that will be running seven days a week.

Rachel Cooper, site lead, said it was "a really exciting day".

She said: "It has come with a lot of challenges, but we are all from healthcare backgrounds and we've all worked on other challenges.

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A large tent has been erected on the bus station concourse for patients to wait in

"But this is really exciting and it's part of history."

Staff at the centre, who are being flanked by members of the Army, RAF, Navy, fire service and civilian volunteers, took in the first patients at 1pm, with 264 in total booked for the whole day.

The latest cohort of people able to receive the vaccination are those aged over 65 or who are clinically vulnerable, who have received an invitation.

Yesterday they were given the Oxford AstraZeneca jab, but that might change depending on storage ability and supply.

The entrance to the new vaccination centre

Rachel said: "We are one of the largest mass vaccination centres with a capacity of eight lanes.

"At the moment we're running four lanes while we settle into it, but we double that if we need to.

"The gold standard is vaccinating one patient every two-and-a-half minutes, but that will depend on the circumstances and the people involved."

The centre, which has a large holding tent opposite the centre on the Bus Station concourse, incase of bad weather, has been created as a joint effort between Lancashire Teaching Hospitals and the Integrated Care System.

How the centre looks from St John's Shopping Centre. This is the exit door.

There are strict hygiene, social distancing and security checks, and a traffic light system of waiting inside, so people know when bays are free.

Rachel was also keen to praise the joint efforts of all staff - medical and otherwise - who have made the clinic possible.

She said: "It's been a huge effort, I don't think people realise how big it is.

"But without those people who have been putting in the flooring, doing the electrics, making the building safe, and those people who have done the recruitment, and are marshalling, this wouldn't be possible.

A traffic light system lets people know when bays are free

"It's working really well."

Noellene Cunningham, 66, from the Tickled Trout area of Preston, was one of the first in line to receive her jab.

She said: "I'm very glad to get this today, it will give me some reassurance to go out and do things like shopping for myself. For the past year my husband and I have had to rely on someone doing our shopping for us.

"This is one step towards normality, and my children and grandchildren are very pleased that both me and my husband will now be vaccinated.

"It's great that this has opened and is so accessible for people. It seems to be working well."

The centre is open 8am to 8pm every day.

People who are eligible, live within 45 minutes’ drive from the new vaccination site and who haven’t already been vaccinated by their local GP led vaccination services or hospital hub, will receive letters from the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service, telling them how they can book their appointment.