Drive-thru Covid vaccine centre trial in Suffolk proves major success

Woolpit Health Centre held their drive-thru Covid vaccine centre back in February.

Woolpit Health Centre held their drive-thru Covid vaccine centre back in February. - Credit: Dr Richard West

Nearly 2,300 people received the Covid-19 jab in a single day during a drive-through vaccination centre trial in Woolpit - 360% more than would have been possible in the surgery.

After a successful drive-thru flu clinic run by Woolpit Health Centre in October 2020 the decision was made to run a Covid vaccine clinic using the same model on Sunday, February 7.

Dr Richard West, the senior partner at Woolpit Health Centre who spearheaded the idea for the scheme, believes drive-thru vaccination centres are the way forward. 

He said: “We could be vaccinating millions of people a week using drive-throughs. If the Government really wants to crack on and get us back to normal, this is the way forward.

The vaccination centre saw nearly 2,300 people receive the Covid-19 jab.

The vaccination centre saw nearly 2,300 people receive the Covid-19 jab. - Credit: Rebecca West

"I am very hopeful that we will do some more.

"It is an enormous team effort to do these sort of things, but you get the benefit of vaccinating a lot of people in one day in a way in which is safe.

"It keeps everyone in their own car, which means they are all staying in their own bubble.

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"The sooner we can get everyone vaccinated the better."

A total of 41 members of staff and 28 volunteers helped with the delivery of the vaccine. 

Patients were sent an invite letter with an hour's timeslot to ensure a steady flow of traffic. 

Upon arrival volunteers guided cars to the correct vaccination station where patients handed over their paper work before receiving the jab.

Nearly 50 members of staff and 28 volunteers battled the cold to help deliver the vaccine to all the patients.

Nearly 50 members of staff and 28 volunteers battled the cold to help deliver the vaccine to all the patients. - Credit: Rebecca West

Dr West also believes he could have vaccinated 6,000 people in a single weekend if he had more supplies. 

But he understands that the vaccine needs to be spread equally around the country.

He said: "I think the major problem is that they take a lot of vaccines, in the clinic we are only using 500 doses a day, but if we are doing the drive-thru we are using up to 2,500 doses a day.

"NHS England are trying to make sure that the amount of vaccine is spread evenly across the country."

UK health bosses fear that the scheme could be affected by an unreliable vaccine supply, but there has been news that the UK will have access to up to 10 million Covid vaccine doses in the coming weeks.  

Executive Lead for the Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System, Ed Garratt, said: “Learning from the drive-through vaccination trial at Woolpit Lane will be used to inform any future proposals for a delivery model of this kind.” 

Dr West would also like to thank the local businesses that helped with the set up of the drive-thru.

He said: "Without this support and community and local businesses the day would not have been able to run as efficiently."

It has recently emerged people in their 20s and 30s are being invited for Covid jabs as the county's vaccinations blaze ahead

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