The first vaccinations in the Oxford community have been given to elderly and vulnerable residents in the gym of a local school. 

The Cherwell School, a secondary school in North Oxford, has become the first vaccination centre in the city. Patients at Banbury Road Medical Centre, Summertown Health Centre and 19 Beaumont Street Surgery are all set to receive their jabs at the site. Over the weekend healthcare professionals planned to deliver over 1,000 vaccines to the most vulnerable Oxford residents. 

Dr Monarch, the co-clinical director of the primary care network which incorporates all three surgeries, thanked the school for “bending over backwards” to accommodate the medical staff. 

He also noted that other venues in Oxford had been keen to allow healthcare staff to use their own spaces as temporary vaccination clinics in order to speed up the rollout of the vaccine. The gym was deemed a suitable site for vaccinations given its high roof and ample space for social distancing.  

Initially the Pfizer vaccine has been rolled out to patients in the community. However, the surgeries plan to begin to use the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine in care homes across the city this week. 

Meanwhile, a local landlord has offered his pubs as vaccination sites, even if it means losing out on more than £250,000 in business grants from the government. 

Dermot King, the chief executive of Oakman Inns, said “The only route to any normality is through mass vaccination and for that the NHS needs to be able to work at scale. The entire hospitality industry is desperate to re-open as quickly as possible before we have huge scale redundancies across the sector. 

Mr King, who manages pubs in areas around Oxford, such as Abingdon and Witney, believes it will be more beneficial to both the economy and society in the long run to ensure everyone is vaccinated as quickly as possible. 

“Our pubs have large indoor spaces and in some cases large car parks and accommodation, which could accommodate large numbers of people around the clock. Clearly, the money offered by the Chancellor yesterday would help us in the short-term, but realistically the only way all of us can get back to normal is to get the country vaccinated. We would rather let the Government keep their hand-out to invest it in using hospitality venues as vaccination centres for the greater good of all. 

“The hospitality sector has the venues, it has the infrastructure, the venues are sitting empty, and our offer even includes a contribution towards the cost of the scheme. We want to help the Government and the people of the UK beat COVID-19 because the quicker we’re vaccinated, the more lives we save, the more jobs we save, the more businesses we save, and we’re prepared to do whatever it takes to see that happen.” 

Image: Labpluto123 / Wikimedia Commons.

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