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Final preparations underway for NHS Lothian’s drive-through mass vaccination centre

NHS Lothian was yesterday (Fri) putting the final preparations in place for NHS Lothian’s only drive-through mass vaccination centre before it goes live next week.

The drive-through centre at Queen Margaret University (QMU) in East Lothian, will become the first of its kind in Lothian when it opens to thousands of patients on Wednesday (Feb 10)

Teams of vaccinators will be able to deliver the life-saving vaccinations to patients while they remain in their own car.

QMU is the third mass vaccination centre to open in Lothian, following the EICC and the Royal Highland Centre. It will initially be capable of vaccinating approximately 720 people per day at 12 stations.

Colin Briggs, Director of Strategic Planning, NHS Lothian, said: “The opening of our third mass vaccination centre and our only drive through is a significant moment for NHS Lothian and for East Lothian.

“A lot of planning has gone into the preparation of the QMU site to ensure that the venue runs as smoothly as possible. It has taken a lot of work, in a short time to get us to this point and I’m really proud of all of the work and effort from all of our teams.

“We have now vaccinated the vast majority of our first priority groups, including frontline health and social care staff; care home staff and residents and people over the age of 80.”

This has been a landmark week for NHS Lothian after it reached the milestone of delivering the vaccine to more than 100,000 people.

Lothian GPs have delivered a quarter (25%) of all vaccines given in surgeries across Scotland and some practices have had a 99% uptake of vaccine in offer in the over 80s.

Mr Briggs added: “We have reached a major milestone this week in the programme, with over 100,000 people vaccinated across Lothian, along with thousands more expected in the coming weeks.

“It is due to the hard work undertaken by our staff and partners that this has been achieved and we thank them for their efforts.

“Our message has been clear from the start – if we wish our lives to return to normal we need to vaccinate as many people as possible.  This will help save lives and provide protection to all our communities.

“When you do receive an appointment, we really would urge you to keep it, even if it is at a centre which is not closest to your home. We need to move fast to provide protection to as many people as possible and the easiest way to do that is for people to keep their original appointment where possible.”

People aged between 75-79 and those most clinically vulnerable will continue to be given appointments to be vaccinated by their GP, while those aged between 70-74 and 65 to 69 are now being invited to mass vaccination sites and smaller community venues for their injections, depending on their need.

Sir Paul Grice, Principal of Queen Margaret University, said the university was proud to join forces to help in the battle against COVID-19.

He added: “Throughout our history, the University has been focused on tackling some of the most pressing issues facing society.  We are proud to play our part in supporting the biggest mass vaccination programme our country has ever undertaken.”

Paul McGirk, Chief Executive of Hub South East, NHS Lothian’s Development Partner, said: “We are delighted to be working with NHS Lothian in the roll out of the Covid-19 vaccination centres across the region – surely one of the most important infrastructure developments in recent times. Our contractor, Morrison Construction, our designers and the rest of our supply chain partners are making excellent progress, pulling out all the stops to ensure that the QMU site is handed over safely, to a high quality and on time for its first patients to receive vaccines next week.

“Following the opening of the EICC Centre last week, and with more set to open in the coming weeks, this has been a fantastic partnership effort by everyone involved. From sourcing appropriate venues, to contract negotiation, design and construction on site, this demonstrates the spectrum of services available through the Hub programme and shows just what can be achieved by working together. Hub South East is delighted to be playing its part in this vital national effort.”

NHS Lothian has been working with councils, health and social care partnerships and other partners in recent weeks.

On February 15, a vaccination centre with 32 stations will be created at Edinburgh Park in the former Royal Bank of Scotland building, followed by another site at the Royal Highland Centre which is expected in March.

Smaller community clinics will deliver vaccinations in the local area for people with complex needs or who, for other reasons, absolutely cannot and would not be expected to travel to a mass centre.

If patients absolutely cannot keep the appointment they have been given, they are being asked to call the COVID-19 Vaccination Helpline on 0800 030 8013 to rearrange their appointment. If they are aged 75 and over, they should phone their GP practice to rearrange their appointment.

More details and information about the venues can be found on NHS Lothian’s website