Although covid figures are currently increasing in Eastbourne, the end of the pandemic is in sight as 600 people a day are being given the jab at the Beacon’s vaccination centre, writes Jacob Panons.
The NHS, along with several veterans working under the banner of the volunteer organisation RE:ACT, have come together to man the centre based in an empty store in the Beacon shopping centre.
And despite the lockdown, at The Beacon vaccination centre there was a sense of optimism on Saturday (January 9).
Victoria Medical Centre chairman Dr Mark Gaffney said, “It’s the future. We can’t carry on the way we are going.
“We have got to sort this out and the only way I see of sorting it out is actually vaccinating all the people that we need to vaccinate. So as fast as they can give us the vaccine we will distribute them.”
The centre currently vaccinates 600 people a day with the Pfizer vaccine while contacting more than 1,000 others to inform them of their slot to receive the jab.
Dr Gaffney added, “It’s been very smooth, very quick, very easy, no problems.
“We have been using the Oxford vaccine in the care homes trying to get the very vulnerable patients vaccinated as quick as possible.
“We have got 400 Oxford vaccines on Thursday (January 14), we have got another 300 next week, so we will have cleared all of the care home patients by next week.”
Dr Gaffney, who has been vaccinated and described the jab as painless, also explained the procedure patients can expect once they arrive at the hub.
“Initially we make telephone calls to the patients from the surgeries and we have a team of people who have been doing that. We give them a set time that they come down.
“When they arrive at that time our marshals, who you can see are a good team of marshals, make sure that everybody is properly spaced, is checked for temperature, asked if they have any of the Covid type symptoms and then also on the phone they are asked a lot of the questions as well before they even get down here. Then they come into the reception area.
“The administrators go through all of the required data that we need to get and to again ensure safety and then they go across to the vaccinators and the vaccinators will ask the final consent and the final permissions, make sure that no one slips through the net in terms of having a severe allergic reaction or any problem with previous vaccines or that sort of thing and then they are vaccinated.
“We will take them out into the second waiting area where they have to wait for 15 minutes and there is another team of doctors inside the second area.
“It is like any other vaccine it is just absolutely straightforward.
“The numbers going through now show that there aren’t the reactions people were worried about.
“As quick as we can invite you, come on down and have it. It is the only way out of this.”
Patients outside the hub who had just received their jab were very pleased with the smooth operation and Christine Brown, 72, said that she was ‘absolutely delighted’ when she heard the news that she and her husband, Keith, 71, were going to be vaccinated.
She said, “It’s wonderfully organised and the people are very friendly, very helpful and they see you through it.”
Sedley Underdown, 83, was also thrilled to have received the injection but wasn’t concerned, he said, “I’ve had hundreds of vaccinations and inoculations and that.”
Mr Underdown, who lives on his own, was aware that he wasn’t safe just yet. “I’m still not fully protected. Once you have the vaccination you have to wait.”
The NHS staff down at The Beacon have continued to carry out their work thanks to help from a number of veterans and volunteers who are helping with the vaccine operation in Eastbourne.
RE:ACT Disaster Response has been at the forefront of the country’s Covid-19 response across the country and are now in Eastbourne.
Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell praised RE:ACT and the overall operation at The Beacon vaccine hub via her Facebook page on New Year’s Day (December 31), she said, “They are doing a brilliant job here and I commend them for their service.
“This is the future. This is how we are going to make our way out of the pandemic.”
RE:ACT has helped medical staff in Eastbourne since December 19 by being the first point of contact for patients.
Paul Hipperson, who is the head of operations for RE:ACT at the vaccine centre, said, “The main thing about it is being a friendly, helpful person who can direct them to the right place and answer any questions or put them at ease.”
RE:ACT is a veteran and volunteer-based organisation that has been working throughout the pandemic to support other charities and the NHS as well as local governments and councils.
The organisation has also been working closely with the British Red Cross and are nearing 300 consecutive days of their response effort.
In this period the organisation has helped fight food poverty with 1.3 million meals along with completing more than 2,000 medical deliveries.
RE:ACT has also supported 84 hospitals while helping with more than 3,500 Covid-19 tests thanks to their 600 trained responders and 5,000 veterans. If you would like to get involved with RE:ACT visit https://www.re-act.org.uk/.