‘Community pulls together’ to vaccinate 1,700 people in a day

Nigel Whitaker is given the Covid vaccine by Carly Reed at Bridport Medical Centre

MORE than 1,700 people in West Dorset received COVID-19 vaccines on Saturday, thanks to the community pulling together.

It was Bridport Medical Centre’s biggest challenge yet, having been selected as the Jurassic Coast Primary Care Network centre to deliver the vaccines for patients in Bridport, Beaminster, Lyme Regis and Charmouth.

But it was a success thanks to an army of volunteers helping direct people to their appointments and the team working so hard to vaccinate so many people.

Dr Andy Finucane, clinical director at Bridport Medical Centre, said: “The news is pretty grim at the moment with talk of schools staying locked down until Easter, hospitals struggling to cope and the emerging news strains of the virus that are potentially more deadly than the original.

“Add to this the irresponsible actions of a small section of the population who flout infection control measures and it is easy to become somewhat despondent and angry with the state of the world and people in general.”

But he said the vaccination clinic on Saturday “restored his faith in humanity and the power of community”.

He added: “Our medical centre in sleepy West Dorset, one of a thousand vaccination centres in the UK, has been tasked with vaccinating the most at-risk patients in West Dorset.

“It’s been a steep learning curve and not without its stresses and obstacles, but each time we get a supply of vaccine the five practices in the Jurassic Coast network, often at short notice, have co-ordinated resources and staff to vaccinate as many patients as possible. All whilst maintaining business as usual, which contrary to popular belief has been busier than ever.”

The clinic on Saturday was the team’s “best effort to date” with about 50 volunteers from the community who stood all day, directing patients from nearby car parks to the centre, dishing out hand gel and checking temperatures.

The team safely vaccinated 1,736 patients, all over the age of 75.

Dr Finucane said: “No long waits, no unsafe queues. It was teamwork at its best.

“Pharmacists and managers, nurses and administrators, paramedics and GPs, volunteers and retired medical staff all working together to protect the most vulnerable in their community.

“Came bakers and sandwich makers, runners who fed the volunteers standing in the cold, hot drinks and kind words – this is our community pulling together.

“Being part of something bigger than your own struggles and worries, bringing meaning and purpose to your actions, this is true happiness.

“To all the volunteers, thank you, thank you, thank you.”

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