Trinity Park vaccination centre running ahead of schedule despite 'teething issue'

Ronald Squirrel answers questions before his Covid-19 vaccination at Trinity Park in Ipswich, which got up and running...

Ronald Squirrel answers questions before his Covid-19 vaccination at Trinity Park in Ipswich, which got up and running today. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

A coronavirus vaccination centre at Ipswich's Trinity Park is running ahead of schedule after an 'amazing' effort by the team involved, say health bosses.

The location is being used as a centre for those in the four most vulnerable groups to receive a vaccination over the coming weeks, and opened on Saturday morning.

The Covid-19 vaccination centre gets up and running at Trinity Park in Ipswich.Credit-Sonya Duncan

Booths at the Covid-19 vaccination centre at Trinity Park in Ipswich. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

However, a number of patients across Suffolk have had Covid-19 vaccination appointments cancelled after the sites were delivered vaccine doses with a shorter than expected lifespan.

David Pannell, chief executive of Suffolk GP Federation, explained the centres had received a shipment of vaccines that expires in three days — rather than the expected three-and-a-half.

Mr Pannell described the problem as a "teething issue" and emphasised that no doses were being wasted.

The Covid-19 vaccination centre gets up and running at Trinity Park in Ipswich.
Credit-Sonya Duncan

A dose of the Pfizer BioNTech coronavirus vaccine at the vaccination centre at Trinity Park in Ipswich. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

He said: "Because of the expiry date, we need to create more appointments earlier within the cycle period. That means we had to cancel out others.

"What we've done is, the appointments that we would have had in that last half a day we pulled into the third day."

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One woman voiced her frustration after her elderly father's appointment was cancelled.

"We booked the appointment (on Wednesday) as soon as we received the text for my dad, and then it was cancelled this afternoon," she said.

"The text message just says that due to vaccine supplies we will have to cancel the appointment and we should receive a new text invite within a few days.

"If we had been given the option we would've taken an earlier appointment rather than have one cancelled."

Commenting on the opening of the Trinity Park centre, Mr Pannell said: "Trinity Park is going really smoothly, despite the bad weather.

"There doesn't seem to be any issues at all down there. In fact they were running slightly ahead, which is amazing given it's the first day.

"People have worked really, really hard to get to this position.

"Our IT department didn't sleep for two days of this week. In the time scale we've had to set it up it's amazing."

The centre's successful first day came in spite of another issue which delayed the delivery of the vaccine.

The Covid-19 vaccination centre gets up and running at Trinity Park in Ipswich.
Credit-Sonya Duncan

The Covid-19 vaccination centre at Trinity Park in Ipswich. - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Mr Pannell put this delay down to the bad weather and the complexity of moving the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine — as it has to be kept at extremely low temperatures.

He said: "It's a very complex logistical exercise moving the vaccine around, and it's going to take a few weeks for it to settle down."

Mr Pannell said he did not know the exact the number of people who had been vaccinated at the site as the numbers go to NHS England rather than to the Federation, but estimated it would have been several hundred.

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