The head of the Covid-19 vaccine programme, Becky Sherrington, says she is ‘absolutely confident’ that all of the necessary measures are in place ahead of Saturday, when nursing, residential home and home care staff will start being vaccinated.
After this, the centre will begin vaccinating front-line health and social care workers on 28 December – shortly followed by those over 80.
‘It’s taken a huge amount of work,’ said Ms Sherrington. ‘We have an immense team. They are absolutely phenomenal. We’ve been supported by a lot of different people across government – our digital health team, our communication team, our pharmacy team – everybody has pulled in. The army reservists came in and built all the screens, and built the pods.’
And Ms Sherrington said that the risk of moving people in and out of Fort Regent through enclosed spaces and constricted access points had been properly mitigated against.
‘We have a separate entrance and exit flow, which is a really important part of this. The Fort allows people to arrive safely and leave safely without intermingling. It’s also got disabled parking, drop-off points and ramps.’
She added that – of the vaccinations done so far – there was around an 80% uptake, with ‘very few’ people saying no to the vaccine.
‘We don’t have the exact figure at the moment but I would estimate it to be around 80% – anecdotally we’ve had a huge amount of staff and residents who have wanted the vaccine.’
She added that people must ‘continue to follow the public-health guidelines’ after being vaccinated.
Meanwhile, workforce lead Aisling Adams said that over 100 people had applied for various roles within the programme and were currently being shortlisted.
‘In order for us to get up to 1,500 people a day, that will take 30 vaccinators, 15 healthcare assistants and 15 administrators. Experience is one of the areas we look at, but also because they are delivering a vaccine they have to deliver it under a requirement called the Patient Group Directive. We look at those type of professionals that are able to deliver a vaccine. That was one of our main priorities.’
The programme began last Sunday, with residents of nursing and residential homes being vaccinated.
The centre itself was constructed in 12 days by 20 reservists from the Territorial Army, who were supported by Fort Regent staff and engineers from JT. It contains six vaccination pods, with the capacity for five vaccinators in each pod, and will be able to vaccinate up to 30 people at a time – at its peak it will receive 1,500 people each day.
A one-way system has also been constructed to guide visitors and to ensure that they can maintain physical distancing while attending their appointment.
Ross Barnes, operations lead for the programme, said: ‘It has been a phenomenal task to plan, construct and manage a vaccine centre that will allow us to safely and efficiently vaccinate the Island.
‘I’d like to thank the Jersey Field Squadron for their hard work, the staff from JT who have ensured we have the technology we need, and the Fort Regent staff who have accommodated this work.’