The Island’s vaccination rollout programme has stepped up a gear, after the first purpose-built mass vaccination centre opened its doors at the airport. Just over 400 people, mainly in the over 80s age group, are attending for a jab today, to protect them from serious illness caused by COVID-19.
The new vaccination hub has been created alongside the check-in area on the ground floor of the terminal building in a convenient and accessible location with plenty of free parking nearby.
The development provides a bespoke facility to ensure priority groups are vaccinated swiftly, safely and efficiently - in the biggest mass vaccination programme ever seen in the Island.
Central to the development is a secure, clinical grade, temperature-controlled facility for the safe storage and preparation of the vaccine, which will be administered by nurses from the Health Visiting and School Nursing teams from 10 vaccination cubicles, each kitted out with all necessary equipment.
Members of the public will be greeted at the entrance where they complete necessary paper work before being shown to a comfortable waiting area. Individuals will be called forward for their jab in one of the cubicles, before moving away from the clinical area and making their way to the exit.
The hub has been designed to ensure an efficient and comfortable operation for patients and staff, which allows a steady flow of people through the facility, from arrival to departure. It incorporates a nurses’ coordination station, an administration area and a range of facilities for staff.
The airport vaccination centre has been built and fitted out by a dedicated project team from the Department of Infrastructure in just over three weeks. The DOI’s Facilities Management team deployed in-house expertise and skills in areas from architecture and construction to mechanical and electrical to produce a workable design.
Eight local contractors and around 20 local tradesmen were engaged on the project, which was active on site seven days a week, breaking only for the Christmas and New Year public holidays. Materials were sourced from almost all Island merchants, many of whom opened specially for the works during their traditional shut-down period.
The project moved swiftly thanks to joined-up working by government departments, airport management and security and Health and Safety teams, ensuring the project progressed quickly and safely in what is a controlled environment. From arrival on site in mid-December the work was completed in 23 days, the bespoke facility being handed over on 21 January.
Health and Social Care Minister David Ashford said:
‘Today’s opening is a significant landmark in our rollout programme. I thank everyone involved – they’ve shown exceptional team-work and a collective determination to make it happen. The new facility is built to do one job and I am confident it will do it well. The hub can cater for hundreds of people each day and will allow our rollout to ramp-up, vaccine supplies allowing - a caveat I must always include.
‘The airport is easily accessible by car and well served by public transport. I urge the public not to wait for additional venues to open, but to go to the current centres we have in Douglas and here at the airport, where they are able to get here under their own steam or with help from a friend or relative.
‘As we move towards easing of restrictions we mustn’t forget this continues to be a health emergency, and our programme is based on vaccinating priority groups in turn at the earliest opportunity. Please help prevent any delays by going for your jab where and when invited.’
The hub comes on stream in the fourth week of the Island’s rollout programme, to coincide with the planned expansion of vaccinations for the over-80s. It will operate from Thursday to Sunday initially, in line with the scheduled availability of vaccine on the Island; operating in tandem with the Newlands facility at Noble’s Hospital and the rollout to care home residents Island-wide, it means vaccine is going into arms seven days a week.