Posted: 21.01.21 at 14:25 by Ethan Davies, Local Democracy Reporter
A mass Covid-19 vaccination centre could open in Cheshire after health chiefs indicated they were open to the possibility.
Even without a large-scale site, NHS figures also said that they were ‘on track’ to meet national targets in delivering the jab to priority groups.
At the first 2021 meeting of NHS Cheshire clinical commissioning group (CCG), the body responsible for organising the county’s vaccine roll-out, Director of Strategy and Partnerships Tracey Cole said the organisation was ‘looking at all the options’ in terms of increasing capacity.
She told the board: “We are looking at all the options. What is the best way to provide this vaccine across Cheshire is one that fits with our population.
“We have not ruled that out… There are further discussions today with partners with what those options are. If we need those [mass] sites we will put forward to have them.
“They need a massive amount of staff and there are a number of things to consider.”
Ms Cole added that although Cheshire currently does ‘not have a mass vaccination site’, it does ‘already have 23 across’ the areas.
Of these, 18 are in ‘primary care networks’, in places like GP surgeries, with four in hospitals, and one pharmacy. Ms Cole also said that plans are in place to add more pharmacies to the list of sites.
The nearest hub for the region is St Helens RFC’s Totally Wicked Stadium, or the Etihad Tennis Centre in Manchester.
The meeting also heard that the CCG ‘believe [roll-out] is going well’, according to chair Dr Andrew Wilson, who also warned that dark days still lay ahead.
He said: “[Residents’ testimonies] really show the community effort that has gone into the vaccination programme.
“I think it is very easy and right to show some optimism with the vaccine but 1,800 people died yesterday and we know that there have been significant excess deaths — and Covid was the number one cause of death in the UK last year.
“We need to remember that we are still in the middle of a very serious pandemic which is putting the NHS under huge strain.”
Yesterday, Cheshire’s two council areas recorded 435 new cases of Covid-19.