Agenda item

An overview and update on operations at the mass vaccination centres across Surrey Downs

Steve Flanagan: Chief Executive Officer, CSH Surrey Board


Mr. Steve Flanagan, CSH Surrey Board, presented to the Panel on the mass vaccination centres and opened his presentation echoing the thanks extended by all in the collaborative working.

Mr. Flanagan advised the Panel that the mass vaccination centre opened on 11 January 2021. The site was one of the first in the Country and attracted significant media attention.

The site started with administering up to 600 vaccinations per day, and is now fully operational and offering up to 1,500 per day. The site just had its busiest day with 1,648 vaccines in one-day. They are looking to achieve the target of over 2,000 over the course of the next few weeks.

Mr. Flanagan advised the Panel that they are offering a hybrid model, vaccinating both younger and older cohorts.

The site had (at the time of the presentation) administered 55,000 vaccines, and as a provider, had also managed to vaccinate 89% of its staff. 

The site is very well staffed and whilst there was an initial issue with staff training and the level of qualification needed based on the offer of Pfizer vaccines, this eased with the use Astra Zeneca vaccines. The site was initially only able to use healthcare professionals to administer the Pfizer vaccinations, but due to school closure were able to utilise school nurses in the early stages.

The site also received unbelievable support from St Johns, and from the local community.

The mass vaccination centre has had various challenges in respect of the lead-in time, and the complexities of the programme. Parking, traffic, workforce sustainability, the national booking system and adequate storage for vaccines have all presented challenges. These have been overcome and the centre is now able to use trained but non-medical staff for administering vaccines. The centre also had adverse weather conditions over one period, however despite this, 90% of those with appointments attended. 

Mr. Flanagan advised that some emerging issues are those attributable to people trying to secure a vaccine when they are not yet eligible. As the program moves to vaccinate younger cohorts however, these can be administered more quickly and as such they will look to vaccinate between 2100-2300 per day.

In respect of the site, this will close for preparations for Epsom Derby, on the 16 May, and the centre will move operations to Sandown until end of August. This move will allow them to try different models, such a ‘drive-through’ administration.

Mr. Flanagan ended by reflecting on the efforts of everyone involved and that the centre has been a model of continuous improvement.

A question was asked about the vaccination service at Nonsuch Mansion, and whether this provided services for residents of Surrey or London. Dr Floyd confirmed that this would be part of London and so the facility was not open to residents of Surrey.

In response to a question about the locations for the second vaccines, Mr Flanagan advised that there was some uncertainty around booking as the  Sandown site  had only just been confirmed as the new venue and this was not yet listed on the national booking system. This will be added as soon as is possible. This will mean residents will be able to re-book at their preferred venue.

Dr Floyd was asked about older people leaving hospital, and then being contacted again to make an appointment for their vaccination/second vaccination. She was asked why they cannot receive their vaccination before they leave hospital. Dr Floyd advised that vaccinations cannot be administered to those who remain unwell, or to those who are not 28-day post-Covid. In the same way, teams have  arrived at care homes, only for one or more residents to be unwell, and therefore the vaccine could not be administered. The teams may be required to make several contacts before being successful.

When asked about second vaccinations for those who had booked their first vaccination directly via the GP system (not the national system), Dr Floyd explained that they could use either booking system.  She further advised that they are currently looking at a ‘Hub’ model for each PCN. This may mean they could run a vaccination service 7-days a week, as well as additional clinical services. The PCNs are able to run an audit of those who have received their first dose, wherever delivered, and re-call for their second vaccination with a choice of location.

Mr Cassidy was asked about the use of volunteers, and whether there were any plans to recognise them.  He reported that they are planning on creating a memorial garden to recognise the contribution they made.

Mr. Flanagan is looking at a ‘thank you party’, once restrictions have been lifted and things have returned to normal. The national programme is also looking at ways to thank the volunteers.

Dr Floyd was asked about future plans for the flu and Covid-19 vaccination programmes, and they would combined in the future. Dr Floyd explained that there is likely to be a Covid booster, and it is anticipated that for those that received the flu vaccine both will be given at the same time. For those not eligible to receive the flu vaccine, the boosters may be administered at GP hubs or local vaccinations sites.

A question was asked about scams, such as those wrongly advising people that they were eligible for the vaccine and to just turn up at the centre.  Mr Flanagan advised scams had caused problems with traffic chaos as those without appointments arrived. Social media was used to let people know that they would not be admitted to the vaccination centres without evidence of a booking. As more cohorts of people become eligible for vaccination this will become less of an issue.   One of the questions was about healthcare workers being asked to confirm their status, however no proof was required.

The centre subsequently saw many people turning up who were not in the profession and there had been the need to turn some people away.  However, to protect security and not put staff at risk, there were some decisions to vaccinate people who had appointments, e.g. as carers, but may have not have been eligible. Mr. Flanagan advised that these issues were connected to the national booking system, as opposed to scams.

The Chairman commented on the success of the programme, and thanked all speakers for their presentations.