Sports arena could host one of UK’s first mass Covid vaccination centres

One of the UK’s first Covid-19 mass vaccination centres could be set up in a sports arena.

Derby City Council confirmed talks were under way with the Government to use Derby Arena as a temporary facility to help administer the vaccine, developed by Pfizer.

The vaccine, said to be 95% effective, is currently awaiting national approval from the UK medicines regulator following successful clinical trial testing on 43,500 people.

But it was hailed at the daily Government press conference at Downing Street on Monday as a “very important scientific breakthrough” by deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam.

Coronavirus – Wed Nov 18, 2020
Coronavirus – Wed Nov 18, 2020

Professor Stephen Powis, national medical director in England, said on Wednesday the NHS was “working incredibly hard” to ensure it is ready to deliver coronavirus vaccines as soon as they get approval.

Prof Powis told a Downing Street data briefing the health service is working to get ready to deploy different vaccines as soon as trials are finished and regulators have given approval.

He said this would be through traditional vaccine routes such as GPs and pharmacies and also dedicated vaccination centres.

Chris Poulter, leader of Derby council, said he was “delighted” the arena was “being considered as a mass Covid-19 vaccination site”.

He added: “The potential rollout of a Covid vaccine is a welcome step in the nationwide effort.

Coronavirus – Wed Nov 4, 2020
Coronavirus – Wed Nov 4, 2020

“It’s an honour for Derby to have the opportunity to play such a critical part in any vaccination programme.

“The arena is a perfect venue. It has plenty of space, parking and good transport networks to serve Derby, Derbyshire and beyond.

“We’re still in discussions about practicalities but are very keen to be able to facilitate this.”

The UK is currently set to get 10 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine by the end of the year, with another 30 million in the pipeline after that.

Derby’s infection case rate was running at 337 cases per 100,000 people in the week to Monday, according to the latest data from NHS Digital.

Before the second lockdown all of Derbyshire had been placed under Tier 2 restrictions, banning household mixing, as infections rose.

Dr Robyn Dewis, Derby’s public health director, welcomed news of talks to set up a vaccination centre in the city, but warned against complacency.

She said: “Vaccines are one of the most effective way to prevent infections like coronavirus.

“But we need to remember that it can’t be rolled out immediately, it will take time, and in the meantime the importance of basic hygiene and safety measures remains imperative.”

Dr Steve Lloyd, Derbyshire clinical commissioning group’s (CCG) medical director who leads on vaccine planning, said discussions were going on with councils across the county.

He said: “Work includes the preparation of sites so that all residents who are considered as requiring a vaccination can access one.

“Making preparations for the residents of care homes, the housebound and also NHS and social care staff to be vaccinated is vitally important.”

He added vaccine rollout planners were “working very closely” with GPs to make sure jabs will get to those who need them.

Charnwood Borough Council also confirmed it is in talks to set up a vaccine administration centre at its offices in Loughborough, Leicestershire, which could open as early as mid-December.

A council spokesman confirmed discussions for a “potential Covid-19 vaccination centre” were continuing with the NHS.

The local authority added: “The details are yet to be finalised so this is still only a proposal at this stage.”

“The offices have capacity as many more staff are working from home and that is a trend that is likely to continue long term.

“Our understanding is the centre could open mid-December.”