My view - vaccination rollout

Monday 22 February 2021

During the pandemic, I have been redeployed from my main role in community safety and resilience to assist with Dundee City Council’s COVID-19 response. My new responsibilities have included arranging additional deaths provision, test and protect systems and provisions for individuals who are self-isolating. It came as little surprise when I was asked to lead a small team to rollout the vaccine programme in Dundee.

In Scotland, and across the UK, the vaccination programme is led by health boards working in partnership with councils. Our health colleagues have always been an integral part of local resilience partnerships (LRP) in Scotland and there were long established relationships to build upon.

While the model of delivery varies across Scotland (GP practices have a significant vaccination rollout role in rural areas of Scotland), a city like Dundee with a condensed population of over 150,000 citizens lent itself to the establishment of a mass vaccination centre. Logistics around the delivery of vaccines and provision of clinical staff remains the responsibility of health boards, the establishment and support around a vaccination centre fell to Dundee City Council.

Key considerations when setting up a vaccination centre include:

  • Identification of a venue capable of running up to 30 vaccination lanes simultaneously, which had sufficient open floor space for pre-vaccine registration, clinical delivery of vaccines, observation areas post-vaccine (Pfizer vaccine only) and a layout which encouraged flow of citizens in a logical manner.
  • The centre should be readily accessible to citizens, well serviced by public transport and with proximate car parking provision allowing people to walk easily to the centre.
  • Establishment of a multi-agency local vaccination group drawing on expertise within the LRP.
  • Agreement that the Council’s events team had the necessary skill set to help ‘operationalise’ the centre.

We were fortunate that the city hall (Caird Hall) fulfilled the criteria necessary for a mass vaccination site, with in excess of 1300m2 available right in the heart of the city centre.

Moving to operational status

  • Initial mark out of the Hall was undertaken by our events team, in line with the service delivery document for mass vaccination centres published by NHS Scotland. This work was completed in conjunction with clinicians.
  • Physical set up of the Hall – assisted by a ‘tiger team’ seconded to Dundee City Council from the British Army (delivered within 24 hours!)
  • Queue management plan (weather can be an issue at any time of year in Scotland!)
  • Standard fire safety, general security and counter terrorism assessments from blue light partners.
  • Identification of staff from within the Council to provide venue and administrative support for the centre (registration, stewarding, transport support for clinically vulnerable and cleaning)
  • Arrangements for the safe disposal of general and (importantly) clinical waste from the centre.

With only a few weeks’ notice, the centre opened on Wednesday 3 February and has been operating smoothly since (notwithstanding some truly appalling weather). Currently the team is scoping a fallback site for contingency use should there be a significant disruption to operations at Caird Hall.

It has been both humbling and inspiring to have been at the centre of the City’s vaccination effort. It offers us all hope for a long overdue and much anticipated return to ‘normality’.

If anyone would like to share their COVID-19 experiences, please contact the ALARM Office.

Graeme Mackenzie, Community Safety and Resilience Service Manager, Dundee City Council and ALARM President.

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