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Covid vaccine: Secret NHS plan to give YOU the coronavirus jab in your village hall

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In a mobilisation evoking memories of wartime Britain community facilities are being handed over so millions can quickly receive a lifesaving vaccine when it arrives. Secret plans drawn up by NHS top brass have put the country on a war footing with the venues on the frontline. As preparations for a mass inoculation programme ramp up the extraordinary can-do spirit behind- the UK’s biggest peacetime logistical exercise has been likened to those who helped on the home front during the Second World War. The Daily Express was granted exclusive access to two venues where the vaccine will be administered around-the-clock in what has been dubbed “V-Day” [Vaccination Day]. Cranleigh Village Hall in Surrey has been commandeered by health chiefs and from today will only be used to give lifesaving jabs, potentially available within days.

Parish council chair Elizabeth Townsend, 56, said: “Waverley Borough Council received a request from NHS Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Group asking whether we had any buildings available and ours is largely standing empty. We have a large hall, side rooms and plenty of parking so it’s perfect. The instruction was very clear and that was to be ready by today. It’s all agreed, we have signed on the dotted line and they will have exclusive use of it seven days a week between 8am-8pm. 

“It usually hosts craft fairs, exercise classes, and bridge clubs, but we have handed it over as part of the vaccination programme and were more than happy to do so. This is a national effort but we are proud to be playing our part in it.”

Leafy Cranleigh, eight miles south east of Guildford, is officially a village despite a population of 11,500.

The village hall, built in 1933, served as the headquarters of the local “Dad’s Army” Home Guard during the war and doubled as a makeshift classroom when the local infant school was flattened by a V-1 flying bomb in 1944.

It has a capacity of 250. If a jab was administered every minute clinicians could potentially inoculate 5,000 people a week.

The venue has been professionally deep cleaned in preparation for the arrival of a vaccine and the NHS will pay basic running costs like heating, electricity and fund minor maintenance, ensuring the parish council is not out of pocket during the programme.

Venues large and small, including community centres and concert arenas, are also throwing open their doors as part of the war on the pandemic.

In Wales Holm View Leisure Centre in Barry, Pentwyn Leisure Centre in Cardiff, and the Cardiff and Vale Therapy Centre, will all be used to give the jab to hundreds of thousands.

And up in the East Midlands the 5,000-capacity Derby Arena, which should now be getting ready to stage the pantomime Sleeping Beauty, starring Emmerdale and Coronation Street actor Bill Ward, has instead been offered up as a vaccine venue by city council leader Chris Poulter.

Tomorrow the city and entire county of Derbyshire – combined population 800,000 – will be plunged into Tier 3 as an area with a very high, or very rapidly rising level of infection, and be subject to the toughest restrictions.

Mr Poulter said handing over the £27 million venue, which opened in 2015 and is used as a multi-use indoor sports arena and velodrome, was the least he could do.

He added: “I have authorised [council] officers to finalise arrangements with the NHS and Public Health England to equip and support the operation of the arena as the main centre for vaccinations in the Derby area. The design, facilities, location, size and parking areas are considered perfect for such a vital facility and we will make it available for as long as it is required. 

“Derby has been on the front foot in the war against Covid since the onset. Communities, volunteers and charities and faiths have come together to create a feeling of community spirit and support, not seen in peacetime. We are the embodiment of a pro-active and forward-thinking council who will be ready and organised for mass vaccination, probably the country’s biggest logistical challenge since the Second World War.”

Readiness comes as the NHS recruits an army of novice healthcare workers to deliver the Covid vaccination programme for 12-hours a day, seven days a week.

Tens of thousands who are out of work and have no previous experience are being asked to step forward to help administer jabs for £134.40 a day. 

It is the clearest sign yet a breakthrough in the nine-month fight against the disease is finally within sight. 

First-time vaccinators, as they will be known, will help inoculate tens of millions of Britons for £11.20 per hour – almost £2 an hour more than the hourly national living wage of £9.50. 

NHS Professionals, a government agency providing the health service with temporary workers, urged those in need of work to “play your part in the Covid-19 vaccination programme” by applying to assist Britain in its hour of need. 

Hospitals have been told to get ready for the rollout of a Covid vaccine by next week with deliveries of the most likely of three potential vaccinations developed and manufactured by Pfizer and BioNtech. It could potentially arrive as soon as Monday, subject to regulatory approval.

In the first instance vaccines will be delivered to hospitals and mass testing centres and then to sites designated by GP surgeries and pharmacies.

The NHS said it was preparing for a “number of potential vaccines and scenarios”. The Army will assist Public Health England with the logistics of moving vaccines to locations where the public will receive the jab.

Vaccines typically take 10 years from research and development before they are ready for widespread public use. If this jab is cleared for use by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency none would have gone from the drawing board to market quicker in the history of medicine.

Pfizer and BioNTech said it would be able to supply 50 million doses of its vaccine – tested on 43,500 people – by the end of the year and around 1.3 billion by the end of 2021. Each person will need two doses.

The UK has been promised 10 million doses by the end of the year with a further 30 million pre-ordered.

An NHS spokesman said: “Staff have been working hard to ensure the NHS is ready to distribute the vaccine once approved by the regulators. The delivery will depend upon which vaccine is given final approval and any regulator guidelines needed to be followed for their deployment.”

COMMENT by Chris Poulter, Derby City Council leader

Derby is excited about the prospect of the arrival of a vaccine and we are determined to play our part and be ready to make one available just as soon as it is licensed and supplies are made available, hopefully early this month.

The centre forms part of Derby City Council and partners’ work to tackle COVID-19 transmission as there continue to be high levels of cases in the city.

I believe the vaccines will be a symbol of light at the end of a very long and dark tunnel, but we need to remember it can’t be rolled out immediately, it will take time, and in the meantime the importance of basic hygiene and safety measures remains imperative. 

In the Derby Arena we have an iconic building, and by throwing open the doors, the end of the tunnel can come sooner rather than later.

I have authorised officers to finalise arrangements with the NHS and Public Health England to equip and support the operation of the arena as the main centre for vaccinations in the Derby area.

The design, facilities, location, size and parking areas are considered perfect for such a vital facility and we will make it available for as long as it is required. The arena is closed for the current lockdown and the pantomime due to be held there has had to be cancelled. The gym facilities can resume operation, socially distanced via different access points.

Derby has been on the front foot in the war against Covid since the onset. Within days we established a community partnership hub to support and help the vulnerable. Communities, volunteers and charities and faiths have come together to create a feeling of community spirit and support, not seen in peacetime.

Crucially, we established a working task force of around 40 partners from all walks of life to develop our economic recovery plan, and help and support businesses, retailers and those made redundant, to diversify and build our city back better.

Derby will emerge in Tier 3 of the new restrictions and residents need to maintain their responsible attitude to doing the right thing by cleaning their hands, covering their face and maintaining social distancing. Only then can meet the criteria set to get to Tier 2 or lower, as we get ever closer to the much needed Christmas holiday.

I’m proud of my Team Derby who are the embodiment of a pro-active and forward thinking council who WILL be ready and organised for mass vaccination, probably the country’s biggest logistical challenge since the Second World War.

Derby has been on the front foot in the war against Covid since the onset. Within days we established a community partnership hub to support and help the vulnerable. Communities, volunteers and charities and faiths have come together to create a feeling of community spirit and support, not seen in peacetime.

Crucially, we established a working task force of around 40 partners from all walks of life to develop our economic recovery plan, and help and support businesses, retailers and those made redundant, to diversify and build our city back better.

Derby will emerge in Tier 3 of the new restrictions and residents need to maintain their responsible attitude to doing the right thing by cleaning their hands, covering their face and maintaining social distancing. Only then can meet the criteria set to get to Tier 2 or lower, as we get ever closer to the much needed Christmas holiday.

I’m proud of my Team Derby who are the embodiment of a pro-active and forward thinking council who WILL be ready and organised for mass vaccination, probably the country’s biggest logistical challenge since the Second World War.

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