End of the road for Harpenden's Covid vaccination centre
- Credit: Steve Collins
The last Covid boosts have been jabbed into the arms of Harpenden residents as the town's vaccination centre finally closes its doors after 14 months of life-saving work in the Public Halls.
The initiative was run by The Harpenden Health Primary Care Network (PCN) , a collaborative effort between the town's three GP practices: Davenport House Surgery, The Village Surgery and Elms Medical Practice.
The PCN stepped up to the challenge of providing a local coronavirus vaccination service in December 2020, in response to the rollout of vaccines by NHS England.
The Harpenden Trust, who had been a core element of the Harpenden Cares initiative in 2020 at the outset of the first lockdown, swiftly responded to the call for volunteers and rallied our community to get involved.
Harpenden PCN vaccination centre manager Hayley Geurts said: "Since opening on Wednesday January 13 2021 the centre has administered over 60,000 COVID-19 vaccines to patients aged five to 105! During our time here we have also provided a service for those housebound and living in local care homes, put on special clinics for our most vulnerable patients and ensured extra care was given to those with learning disabilities or particularly nervous patients. We were proud to achieve Purple Star Award status, recognising our person-centred approach at the centre.
"It was wonderful to see patients arriving at the centre in January 2021, after isolating at home for so long. One couple commented that they had met at a dance back in the 1940s at the Public Halls and were attending together decades later for their vaccinations.
"Many of our volunteers said it was a nostalgic experience working there, as their children had grown up doing Gang Show on the stage many years before. We also had the privilege to vaccinate Ms Joan Bartholomew, Eric Morecambe’s wife, in the aptly named Eric Morecambe Hall."
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The vaccination service was provided by more than 50 members of staff from the GP practices, including PCN pharmacists, paramedics and care coordinators, 300 volunteers from The Harpenden Trust, 100 volunteer vaccinators from many healthcare, education and community backgrounds and operational assistance from STAHFED (St Albans and Harpenden GP Federation) and Herts Valleys CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group).
Hayley added: "We would like to particularly thank The Harpenden Trust, St Albans district council, Harpenden Town Council, 1Life, Silver Palate, Costa Harpenden, Thompson Close Cafe, Intelligents Security, Alban Cleaning and Thameslink Harpenden for their support and hard work. We extend our thanks to everyone who has contributed to this incredible community effort, including the patients who thanked us in so many ways. We wouldn’t have been able to create this successful centre without the care and encouragement from you all."
The Harpenden Health PCN arranged for a commemorative bench to be placed on the Common in front of the Public Halls, which was unveiled by the Town Mayor Cllr Paul Cousin at the centre's closing event on Saturday.