Portsmouth set for mass Covid vaccination centre with plea for volunteers to help

A VACCINE supercentre is set to open in Portsmouth in a bid to protect vulnerable residents as quickly as possible from Covid-19.

By Fiona Callingham, Belinda Dickins and Richard Lemmer
Friday, 8th January 2021, 7:00 am

An existing site in the city will soon be transformed into a mass vaccination hub - with residents encouraged to sign up as voluntary aid.

Although the location of the site has yet to be confirmed, Portsmouth City Council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said ‘more details’ would be provided on Monday.

But former council boss and Conservative group leader, Cllr Donna Jones, indicated the St James’ Hospital site in Milton could be used.

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Residents and staff at The Home of Comfort in Victoria Grove, Southsea, received the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination on Wednesday, January, 6 2021. Pictured is: Eileen Fryer.

It comes as prime minister Boris Johnson last night promised hundreds of thousands of vaccines a day by the middle of this month in a plan involving the military.

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Speaking to The News, Cllr Jones said: ‘We're anticipating a new large-scale vaccination centre opening at St James’ Hospital in the next week, as well as doctors surgeries, which will help to stem the spread of the virus.’

A rallying cry has been made to find volunteers for the centre from January 18.

A dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. Photo by GUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP via Getty Images

The Hive voluntary hub is working with Solent NHS Trust to recruit members of the community to help guide patients arriving and departing from the centre.

Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan urged people to get involved. He said: ‘This is a fantastic opportunity, for those that feel safe to do so, to support our city’s and the country’s historic effort in the fight against coronavirus.

‘The vaccine is our way out of this and it is now so important that we all do our bit, where we can, to roll it out and vaccinate Britain.’

The vaccine wellbeing volunteers will be needed at the centre seven days a week, working in shifts.

Residents and staff at The Home of Comfort in Victoria Grove, Southsea, received the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination on Wednesday, January, 6 2021.

Roger Batterbury, from Healthwatch Portsmouth, also backed the scheme. ‘Its great local initiative,’ he said.

‘It's a great opportunity for people who are subject to lockdown to get out and do something productive for their community.’

Members of the public can register via volunteer.hiveportsmouth.com

The supercentre will work alongside Queen Alexandra Hospital and four city surgeries that are already distributing vaccines to eligible patients.

There are set to be sites at Eastney Health Centre, Cosham Health Centre, Lake Road Health Centre, and Kingston Crescent Surgery.

Currently only people in priority groups are eligible for the vaccine, as specified by the government's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

At the moment this includes care home residents and staff, frontline health and social care workers and people aged 80 years old and over.

In the seven days to January 2 there have been 1,353 new cases in Portsmouth, with an infection rate of 629.6 per 100,000 population. So far 466 patients at QA Hospital have died with Covid.

As of January 5 there were 457 Covid patients in beds at QA Hospital.

Residents of Southsea care home, The Home of Comfort in Victoria Grove, were among those in the city who have received the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

Each of the home’s 26 residents were vaccinated against the virus on Wednesday.

Matron Deepa Anil said: ‘I am happy now that our residents have all been vaccinated, and we are very proud to be at the forefront of this important effort with cooperation from everybody.'

Some of the staff had already been able to get vaccinated at the hub at QA Hospital, but another dozen were given their first dose on Wednesday.

Brian Scammel, a resident of the home, said: ‘I am very happy with having a vaccine and I am feeling fine and proud to be a part of it.’

Fellow resident Joan Kup-Ferroth added: ‘I did not feel anything when the injection was done, and I have no pain today, I feel fine. I am very happy to have had the vaccination.’

However, some city residents are concerned vulnerable people are being ‘missed’.

NHS England has advised people their GP will contact them about vaccinations, but some anxious family members of elderly relatives are keen to find out when their loved ones will get the jab.

Joanne White, from Southsea, was so concerned about her 98 year-old-father John that she phoned her surgery several times before Christmas, before a final call on Monday confirmed that he could be vaccinated this Saturday.

The full-time carer said: ‘I wasn't pressuring them or trying to jump the queue.

‘Friends and family kept ringing me saying “so-and-so has had it” - and I kept thinking “why has my dad not had it?”

‘I was getting upset - but it all takes time, I understand that.’

According to NHS England between December 8 and January 3 a total of 1,092,885 people in England have received the first dose of a vaccine, and 19,981 have had their second.

No data is available yet for local areas.

Six hospital trusts across England, not including Portsmouth, have already started administering the Oxford vaccine. It is not yet known which vaccine will be provided at the supercentre.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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