The Lights theatre in Andover opened its doors today as a GP-led vaccination site to assist with the rollout of the national coronavirus vaccination programme.
Council chiefs have been working with NHS colleagues from the West Hampshire and North Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Groups to identify suitable sites in the borough, with The Lights in Andover and Crosfield Hall in Romsey both selected for the mammoth task.
The national vaccination programme is being coordinated by the NHS and central government with those most at risk set to receive the first doses of the breakthrough vaccine. The NHS will contact people in the priority groups when it is their turn to receive the vaccine. People should not contact their surgeries as the vaccination service is available strictly by invitation only.
Leader of Test Valley Borough Council, councillor Phil North, said: “I am really pleased that we are able to play our own small part in supporting the national vaccination programme. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause to the users of these venues but the scale of this task is almost unprecedented and we will do all we can to assist the NHS with the rollout of the vaccines.
“Coronavirus has transformed and, tragically destroyed, so many people’s lives over the past few months. The vaccine offers a small glimmer of hope that life may start to return to normal next year. And we hope that includes audiences returning to the theatre once more to watch shows and spend time with family and loved ones.”
Dr Ben Sharpe, clinical lead for the Andover vaccination site, said: “2020 has been a hard year for so many people, but we hope that as we start these vaccinations, people will feel encouraged for the start of 2021. The scientists behind this vaccine have managed to ensure it is safe, well-tested and very effective in a brilliantly short timescale.
“For us, it has been hard work over the last three weeks getting ready for our first delivery. There has been extraordinary teamwork across the town amongst the Primary Care Network (all of the town’s GP practices together), Test Valley Borough Council, the team at The Lights and the Clinical Commissioning Group in Hampshire. There has been an amazing response of over 200 volunteers wanting to help us deliver this programme, for which we are really grateful.
“Following the team’s hard work, I’m sure I won’t be alone in getting a little bit emotional when the first people get vaccinated this week.
“We hope that we will see large numbers of people over the next few weeks and look forward to helping protect them against COVID-19. We ask that people don’t contact The Lights or their practices just yet as we will contact them directly when they are eligible for vaccination.”