A Gainsborough ward councillor says he has been overwhelmed by the ‘heart warming’ response of residents receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations.
Earlier this month John Coupland Hospital opened its doors to become the latest vaccination centre to open in the district, along with the Lincolnshire Showground.
In the first 9 days, around 3,500 people were reported to have received their vaccinations at the Gainsborough site.
Cllr Jim Snee, a West Lindsey District Councillor, who also works at the hospital as a Support Services Team Leader, witnessed first-hand the impact the centre is having.
He said he was moved by the ‘relief and pride’ people were feeling after having had the vaccination.
Cllr Snee said: “Some of the comments have been fantastic. We have had people literally in tears, thanking us, they are so grateful. One lady said to me – she hasn’t been out for the best part of 10 months, and this was better than going to the beach! She really was so pleased.
“Everybody has been so grateful for what we have been doing and it’s been a massive effort from everybody. The people of Gainsborough and the district have come together and it has been a really good team effort. We just need to keep it going.”
At John Coupland Hospital there are about 16 volunteers per day who are working in roles such as car park attendants, reception, directing patients to seats and monitoring after them for 15 minutes after the vaccination, (to free up the medical staff time).
As the vaccination rollout continues, Cllr Snee said he wanted to give special recognition to the number of volunteers who are helping out.
Cllr Snee said: “The volunteers have been absolutely fantastic. This is the key thing – without the help of the volunteers, it wouldn’t be possible for the medical people to do what they need to do.
“We still are encouraging people to volunteer because even though they might not get called up this time, the key is – when we get going faster, we will need more volunteers. If you have already applied to be a volunteer and haven’t been contacted, don’t worry, you will be.
“This has been a positive and heart-warming experience. I am really proud to be a part of it.”
Cllr Snee is urging the public to not contact the hospital or their GP to try and book an appointment.
He said: “We have been inundated with phone calls from people trying to book an appointment and I would ask that people wait to be contacted first. Your GP practice will contact you when it is your turn.
“The town’s response really has been overwhelming. Gainsborough is only a small town but it is part of the bigger picture. Everybody’s upbeat and there’s a feeling of – at last, let’s get on with it!
Did you know?
The very first vaccinations at John Coupland began at 09:30 on the morning of 16th January – with Gainsborough residents Daniel Bardsley and Joan Farrow becoming the first to be vaccinated at the hospital.
Currently, residents who are registered as part of either Cleveland, Caskgate, Saxilby or Hibaldstow GP surgeries – known as the Trent Valley group - and who are in the first priority cohorts, are being contacted to organise a vaccination at John Coupland Hospital.
Volunteer amazed at vaccination centre ‘atmosphere’
Dorothy Russell, from Welton in West Lindsey is one of many volunteers who are giving up their time to support the vaccination centres in the district.
The Lincolnshire Showground’s vaccination centre is made up of nine GP surgeries coming together to vaccinate more efficiently. They are currently getting through 400 vaccinations a day.
Dorothy said that from day one of opening the atmosphere was ‘amazing’.
She said: “Everybody – from the people getting the vaccine, the people giving the vaccine to the volunteers helping out – everybody was in such a good mood. It was such a good experience.
“A lot of the people that are coming at the moment – the over 80s – they have been really isolated all through this pandemic. They haven’t seen their kids, their grandkids, they haven’t seen their friends because they are not allowed out. So for them to come to a place where there was a whole bunch of people they could talk to, it really cheered them up – it cheered me up!
When asked why Dorothy signed up to become a volunteer she admitted she just wanted to feel useful.
She added: “I also felt the more people help with something like that, the sooner we all get the vaccine, the sooner we all get back to normal.
“The staff at the health centres can’t do everything; if they are greeting people at the door, taking people to the reception desk, watching them afterwards, then they are not giving vaccinations.
“The more of them that can vaccinate, the better, so if people like me can do all the non-clinical stuff, we will get through more in a day. The sooner we get though the older people, the sooner the younger ones will get theirs as well.
“The more people that do it, the sooner we get it done and then we can get back to normal.”