Vaccinations under way at Epsom as track becomes one of seven mass centres
Racing is playing a part in national efforts to get on top of the coronavirus with Epsom racecourse chosen as one of seven mass vaccination centres across England - while Newbury on Monday confirmed it too would be used as a site from later this week.
The purpose of the centres is to escalate the number of vaccinations rolled out, with Millennium Point in Birmingham, Ashton Gate in Bristol, the ExCeL Centre in London, Manchester Tennis and Football Centre, Centre for Life in Newcastle, Robertson House in Stevenage and Derby Arena chosen for a geographical spread that covers as much of the country as possible.
‘I had no hesitation in coming forward. Having this vaccination makes it a step closer to being with my family again and giving them a big hug.’— NHS England and NHS Improvement (@NHSEngland) January 11, 2021
89-year-old Moira was the first to receive her jab today at @EpsomRacecourse vaccination centre, accompanied by her daughter. pic.twitter.com/utlu02ei0X
The government has said it plans to vaccinate all over 70s, healthcare workers and those required to shield – thought to be in the region of 15 million people – by mid-February when the current nationwide lockdown is scheduled to end.
The county of Surrey has one of the highest infection rates in the country, and Epsom is joining the effort to accelerate the speed with which the vaccine is administered with roughly 800 people a day visiting the Covid-secure site at the track.
Simon Durrant, general manager of Epsom racecourse, said: “The Jockey Club is proud to play our part in this national effort against the coronavirus pandemic, with Epsom Downs Racecourse chosen as one of seven sites by the UK Government to act as a 'super-vaccination' centre. We’re delighted the NHS operation delivering this is now underway with the first vaccinations having taken place.”
Professor Stephen Powis (@NHSEnglandNMD) visited @EpsomRacecourse this morning and explained the next step in the NHS's vaccination roll-out, and the importance of sticking to the rules to ease pressure on the NHS.— NHS England and NHS Improvement (@NHSEngland) January 11, 2021
: @BBCBreakfast pic.twitter.com/26MveLj9Nu
Jockey Club spokesperson Sam Hanson added: "The Jockey Club is delighted to be helping out with what is a huge national effort to vaccinate as many people as possible in line with government strategy.
"We're very much just the venue, the whole operation is being run by the NHS. For us it's very much the operational effort, we're dealing with the parking and flow of people. The team here have done an amazing job of getting a system in place for the roughly 800 people that will be coming through today.
"We've a one way system and it's all taking place in the Duchess Stand. The team that would normally handle raceday operations have sprung into action to ensure there's ample parking, the flow of people is quick and smooth and people have a pleasant experience.
"Otherwise it's very much down to the NHS and their incredible effort and their incredible staff. We're very proud to be assisting a huge national effort and helping out in any way we can."
The site's use as a vaccination hub is not expected to impact the track's 11 planned racedays.
Newbury on Monday confirmed it too would be one of many additional centres across the country as the government rolls out its vaccination plan.
The course tweeted: "We are pleased to join the efforts of many others and announce that the racecourse will open as a Covid-19 Vaccination Centre later this week. Final preparations are being made so that we can welcome our local community."
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