Over 200,000 Covid-19 vaccinations given in Torquay

By David Gledhill, Marketing & Communications Lead

IT has been a busy old week down at the vaccination centres with record numbers attending the Riviera Centre in Torquay on Monday.

A record 1,937 vaccinations were delivered on one very busy day, helping achieve another milestone in the protracted battle against the virus, the 200,000th shot to be given at the Riviera Centre.

And none of it could have been achieved without the dedicated team of volunteers and NHS staff who oiled the wheels to make sure operations have run smoothly since the makeshift centre opened back in January.

The world is being kept running right now because of the kindness of individuals who give up their time, open their hearts and embrace whatever is thrown at them, more often than not with a smile.

When I was at the Riviera on Thursday for my own booster jab, smiles were in abundance from the moment I arrived to be greeted by one volunteer separating the walk-ins from the appointments.

The chap on the reception desk jokingly remarked he had been so busy that he had worn through pens and probably got repetitive strain injury in his wrist. All said with a grin from ear to ear.

Step inside, and more volunteers are shepherding the queues making sure you arrive at the right desk at the right time before taking your place in line for the vaccination.

It is no mean feat exposing the top of your arm when you are bundled up for winter, but regardless of the speed and efficiency of the whole operation, everyone remains patient as outer layers are peeled back.

And after fifteen minutes relaxing under the watchful eye of yet more volunteers, a final cheery goodbye from the woman on the door and more goodbyes from the car park marshals. In and out in under half an hour. With only pain in the arm to remind me of the whole experience.

No wonder social media this week has been awash with kind words for the volunteers and staff at both the Riviera and the Furzeham Rooms in Brixham Town Hall.

If you haven’t had your full set of jabs yet, you can either go online to the NHS website, call 119 or take advantage of the walk-in facility available at the Riviera Centre. However, if you want to avoid queues, booking is best.

We are getting there. By the end of last week, 84% of people over the age of 12 had had their first vaccination and 78% their second which in a population of around 135,000 is no mean feat.

Sadly, there are no local figures available as yet for the booster jabs, but the Government say that nationally a total of 12,164,586 booster jabs have been given including, 2.4million last week alone.

If you are in the minority and still not protected it is also worth noting, that the COVID rate in the Bay remains above the national average at 454 per one hundred thousand people compared to the national average of 346.

Vaccination does not give you immunity, but it gives you the best protection available against serious illness and hospitalisation. Now that we are into Winter, Torbay Hospital is going to be busy enough without adding COVID into the mix.

If you or anyone you know still wavering, it is not too late and there are plenty of opportunities to catch up at pop-up clinics, by booking online or by taking advantage of the walk-in service which runs from 8:30am and 4pm.

There is a pop-up clinic in Brixham today at Brixham AFC in Wall Park Road and in Paignton in Boniface Church in Belfield Road tomorrow from Noon until 5pm, but if you can’t make those and you need to plan ahead then Saturday clinics at the Riviera Centre are now running regularly.

Whichever clinic you decide to visit, please remember that the people making it possible are hardworking NHS staff and volunteers without whom none of this would be possible.

So please, return those smiles, it is not easy standing outside in the cold and rain dealing with an endless stream of people for hours at a time, but somehow, they do. Thank goodness.