Bath & West confirmed as COVID Vaccination centre

It was probably the worst kept secret in Somerset. Bizarrely as recently as last Wednesday we were officially told we could not officially know. But now we can officially know that the Bath & West showground will open as a large scale vaccination site. This is the second in Somerset after the Taunton racecourse site.

Timely too, for over the weekend the Taunton site was closed for vaccinations on Saturday. Why? The deal under which it was provided insisted that horse racing be allowed to continue. So as a meet had been planned for Saturday, the vaccination centre had to be closed. Several Leveller readers wrote to us to suggest this was a strange priority during a national emergency.

Moving back to more positive territory, the Bath & West will open seven days a week, 8am – 8pm. Final preparations are taking place on site as we write this. The first people will arrive to get their jab this week. The vaccination site has been set up within the Showerings Pavilion. It is hoped that once fully operational, teams will be able to vaccinate around 1300 people a day. This will be done through four vaccination ‘pods’.

The new large vaccination site will offer vaccinations to priority groups. For now these include the over 80s and frontline health and care staff.

Over the next few days local residents will be contacted by the NHS. initially this will be priority groups who live up to 45 minutes away from the new site. People will be invited to book their jab through a new national booking service. The centre will be an additional option for people to have their COVID-19 jab.

However people can also choose to wait to be called by their local GP surgery if they prefer. An priority groups will continue to be called by their GP. The message as before is very much “don’t call us we’ll call you”.

One comment

  • Counting the Taunton racecourse meet this past Saturday (23rd of Jan) there are 8 racecourse meetings there between now and Easter. That is 8,000 lost vaccinations while horses run around a track and the betting industry makes money.

    The vaccinations have to stop earlier the day before and everything packed away then it needs cleaning and setting up again the day after. While they say this is allowed for there is still lost capacity every day it is closed.

    Seems bizarre to pick this additional cost Taunton racecourse site (not easy to access other than by your own car and narrow entrances etc) with these lost days, when the Silk Mills park & ride site in Taunton is available (without additional public cost) and has a covid-safe bus shuttle with multiple town pick ups and drop offs plus is easy to get to on foot and bike too alongside easy car entry and exit.

    Quite why the NHS is so reticent to share plans and vaccination statistics isn’t helpful but as it is all going well then I guess that culture of excessive secrecy will be overlooked.

    There has been extensive use by the NHS of racecourse sites around the country. Cynics will wonder whether Dido Harding of the Jockey club board had any influence? She has form as she was on the board that went ahead with the Cheltenham race meeting amidst the first wave of covid – something that created hot spots in the area and took the disease around the country and abroad etc.

    Her reward was being appointed (without a competitive process) to head the costly and largely underperforming outsourced top down Test & Trace program (while ignoring local, experienced test and trace in Councils for the larger part of the epidemic) and then to be made Head of the new National Institute for Health Protection (again without a competitive process)!

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