The everyday Derby heroes helping vaccinate our city against Covid-19

Published: 18 February 2021

Derby Arena

Derby Arena is currently being used as a Covid-19 vaccination centre

In late December 2020, Derby Arena began its transformation from velodrome to vaccination site as work got underway on the biggest vaccination rollout the country has ever seen.

As well as amazing NHS staff to give the vaccines, a number of volunteers have been drafted in from across the city to support the effort by helping get residents, many elderly and vulnerable, vaccinated.
Currently, there are a number of volunteers registered and taking on shifts of up to 12 hours at the Arena.

One volunteer is Anne, who’s changed roles from a Velodrome coach to a steward. She said:

“I covered one of the final few ‘drop-in‘ sessions, in late December just before The Arena was closed and already I could see work being carried out for the transformation to a vaccination site.

“When we were informed that stewards would be required, I volunteered and nervously reported for my first shift, two weeks ago. I needn’t have worried! The meeting and briefing took place in the Arena so, I felt quite at home. Our various roles were explained by friendly NHS staff, from welcoming the patients, making them feel at ease, (many were extremely anxious and needed wheelchairs) through the various stages to the vaccination pods and recovery area until they were ready to leave.

“I have covered most of the volunteer roles now and love talking to the patients, many of whom had never been inside the Arena and were very interested in the track!

“Thousands of Covid-19 vaccinations are being administered daily, and I’m proud to be part of this programme so that we can hopefully begin to return to normality and ultimately ride in the Velodrome again!

One of my favourite moments as a steward, was meeting an extremely sprightly 100-year-old gentleman who showed a great interest in the track and even asked me if I would take him for a few laps on a tandem!”

Like Anne, many volunteers have been redeployed from their usual work to support the vaccine programme, giving them an opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people.

Vaccinations at the Arena were originally carried out by five Primary Care Networks (PCNs) working together, representing 30 GP practices around the city. At the end of January, the site also gained mass vaccination status, significantly increasing the amount of medical staff available on site. Vaccinations are all by appointment only.

People should not contact their GP about a vaccination unless asked to do so and should not attend any vaccination site without an appointment.

Derby & Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is managing the rollout of the vaccine across the county.

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