“Go get vaccinated, spread the word, not the virus”

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

THE vaccination rollout across the Bay continues with one of the busiest weeks on record as walk-ins are encouraged alongside booked appointments.

Vaccinations are now available to anyone over the age of 16 and they are joined by others who are either having a third full dose because they are immune suppressed or receiving the recommended booster jab.

The figures are encouraging as 82% of the Bay’s adult population have now had their first vaccination with 77% having had their second. Figures are not yet available for the booster jabs, but judging by the queues at the Riviera Centre in Torquay, take-up is good.

More than 7,000 received a vaccination last week at the Riviera Centre alone, with another 500 plus in the Furzeham Room in Brixham Town Hall, all of which is only possible with the help of dedicated teams of volunteers.

Our marshals and greeters are out in all weathers, but even torrential rain and high winds fail to lessen the smiles on their faces, because they love what they do.

Matt Dart, who is the volunteer coordinator at the Riviera Centre said of his team: “The Riviera Vaccine Centre is still going strong; we are all working together as one large team, allowing the vaccine staff to get as many people as possible vaccinated.”

“The amazing volunteers who stand out in all weathers directing cars and people to their destination plus the volunteers indoors with the endless questions that they answer repeatedly. But we all love it; we all feel part of one big team helping to deliver hope to Torbay.”

Last week the volunteers worked in shifts – five and a half days at the Riviera Centre and Tuesday and Friday in Brixham, which adds up to hundreds of hours given freely by the community for the community.

Rosemary Clarke, the vaccine volunteer coordinator in Brixham, said of her team: “The volunteers are welcoming and help to keep the flow of people going. The vaccinators are efficient and caring in their work.”

“Most of the people who come in are very pleased that they can have it in Brixham instead of having to travel to Torquay or further afield, particularly those having their booster as they had to travel for their first two vaccinations.”

Despite the impressive numbers, there is, as yet, no end in sight. More people are being called for their booster vaccinations and the age of those being vaccinated is falling, and that means that there are always opportunities to become a volunteer and join the teams.

It would be nice to think, though it will never happen, that we will reach 100% vaccination, and that means that we will have to live with coronavirus in our midst for the foreseeable future.

In the Bay, the figures are fluctuating but generally staying close to the national average and as of Monday of this week, there were 491 cases per one hundred thousand people compared to the average of 486.

It is all too easy to slip into old habits and in some places, you could be forgiven for thinking that COVID has already gone away, but it hasn’t and it is now up to the individual to take sensible precautions, particularly as Winter bites.

The laws may have changed, but it is still sensible to observe the original mantra of face, space, hands. Wear a mask, especially when indoors, stay a sensible two metres apart both indoors and out. And wash your hands as often as possible.

Cold weather means that we are spending more time indoors and without the right precautions that could cost us dearly. The virus spreads easily through the air and we cannot identify a carrier until it is too late. Furthermore, we cannot know who is vaccinated and who has chosen not to be.

As one of the volunteers was heard to say the other day: “Go get vaccinated, spread the word, not the virus”.

To get a vaccination, make an appointment via the NHS website as your doctor will no longer call you up or attend the walk-in clinics running between 8.30 am and 4 pm, Monday to Friday at the Riviera Centre. You are guaranteed a warm welcome, whatever the weather.

If you are interested in volunteering, please ring the Torbay Community Helpline on 01803 446022, or use the online formbit.ly/torbayhelpline