By working together the three Primary Care Networks, covering the GP practices across the City and District
of St Albans, and the St Albans and Harpenden GP Federation (STAHFED), have played a significant role in
delivering the national Covid-19 vaccination programme to date.
A target of inviting all residents 18 years
and above by the end of July was set by the Government and we are delighted to have achieved that target
for St Albans.
Operating from Batchwood Hall the St Albans Vaccination Service (STAVACS) team converted the
abandoned nightclub into a fully functioning vaccination centre within just one month as an emergency local
solution to the crisis the pandemic presented the nation. A professional and efficient operation has been
developed, with staff often working in a challenging environment to administer over 75,000 vaccinations
since December 2020.
At our peak, we were able to vaccinate over 2000 patients daily with the
AstraZeneca vaccine and over 1600 patients daily with the Pfizer vaccine.
As the national vaccination programme moves into planning delivery of COVID vaccine boosters the time
has come for us to wind down operations at Batchwood Hall and the site will close on 31st July 2021. Even
after this date it is important that as many people as possible get both initial COVID vaccine doses as soon
as these are offered to them and alterative venues will be available.
The STAVACS team are proud of their achievement to date. One of our most innovative creations was the
development of drive-through clinics for clinically extremely vulnerable patients in order to keep them as safe
as possible, with staff vaccinating in the snow to this end. In addition, we have run clinics for patients with
learning disabilities, achieving Purple Star Award status for health equality, and have undertaken outreach
vaccination within the traveller community, homeless shelters, women’s refuges as well as running clinics at
the Islamic Centre in London Colney and sporting events. Care homes and patients who are housebound
were amongst the earliest groups to receive their first vaccine.
This included 250 residents of care homes
who were vaccinated on New Year’s Eve. We have administered 44,445 first doses and 31,820 second
doses. The team have vaccinated 43 people over the age of 100, with 23 of them attending Batchwood Hall.
The oldest person we have vaccinated was 104 at time of vaccination and the oldest to attend Batchwood
were six 103 year olds!
For those that attended clinics at Batchwood Hall, it was a nostalgic experience for many. One couple came
on their wedding anniversary of marrying at Batchwood Hall; others remembered afternoon teas and more
recently dancing and shots of a different kind.
There cannot be many people who have had their vaccine
underneath a huge chandelier. For many patients it was an emotional experience to take their first step to
improved safety, after months of staying at home.
The whole vaccination process would not have been possible without the hard work of our volunteers from
Communities 1st and St John’s Ambulance. They have been with us through every weather you can imagine
and remained cheerful, polite and helpful throughout.
This has been a true team effort, with hard work from
the nine GP practices, the management team at STAHFED, the Clinical Directors, the Project Support
Officers, the Care Coordinators and the local CCG. Many of our vaccinators volunteered in their own time,
returned from retirement or increased their part-time hours to ensure that the vaccination programme could
be delivered as quickly as possible.
We are also very grateful to St Albans District Council, Daisy Cooper, MP for St Albans constituency, for
support with initial setting up, Intelligents Security and 1Life who have all been instrumental in keeping the
operation functioning and safe. In addition, we received laptops on loan from Computer Friendly, and
electrician Gavin Bray was invaluable in helping set up adequate lighting when we first started vaccinating.
Many local people and companies have kept the staff and volunteers well fed with special thanks going to
the Jersey Farm Community Café, Heaven is a Cupcake, Morrison’s, Waitrose, the Inn on the Park and
Our first clinic date was on December 15th 2020 and our last clinic date is currently on Thursday 29th July
2021. Depending on vaccine supply, we may be able to open a clinic on Friday 30th July.
After the Batchwood Centre closes, you can either book through the National Booking System through the
NHS UK website. or go to one of the walk-in vaccination clinics happening across Hertfordshire.
For walk-in clinics, you do not need to be registered with a GP.
If you do
not have access to the internet, then you can dial 119. Second doses can be given 8 weeks after the first
dose and it is very important to have both vaccines to provide the best possible protection against Covid-19.