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Staff and volunteers celebrate day of 50,000th jab at Grantham Meres vaccination centre




The team at the The Meres vaccination centre will give their 50,000th covid jab today.

Staff and volunteers at the Grantham site are celebrating a significant milestone since the centre opened for vaccinations in January.

Today vaccination staff and the team of volunteers were dressed in red costumes to celebrate Red Nose Day at the same time.

Darren Altus, K2 Healthcare operations director, and clinical director Adriaan Van Biljon. (45307822)
Darren Altus, K2 Healthcare operations director, and clinical director Adriaan Van Biljon. (45307822)

The vaccination roll-out at The Meres has been coordinated by K2 Healthcare which represents 16 GP surgeries in Grantham and Sleaford.

Clinical director Dr Adriaan van Biljon, a GP at the Vine Street surgery in Grantham, said: "We are really proud of what we have achieved and of the cooperation of our patients and practices. Today we will hit the 50,000th jab here at The Meres combined with all the vaccinations we have done in the community. The government's target was to get to the end of this cohort (over-50s) somewhere towards the middle of April and we are very fortunate we will probably hit that target just before the start of April."

Dr van Biljon said he was 'glowing' about the milestone reached today at the centre. He said: "What an amazing team. Darren (Altus) has had a very strong core team around him under his leadership. I am in awe of them at times, the amount of effort they have put in, in their own time after hours, weekends, sacrificing their personal and family lives on top of their day jobs, going out to vaccinate people in the community, in care homes, in learning difficulty homes. You're just in awe of the effort that is going on around you. And it's all to get us out of this terrible crisis.

"We have been fortunate that wonderful people have stepped forward to help us. We have got a certain number of people we rely on who come on a regular basis. They are so committed and so reliable and we have many more that have come forward. Unfortunately we can't use all of them. We have limited numbers but it's been a great response."

K2 Healthcare operations director Darren Altus told the Journal: "This has shown the true potential of working together. We try to protect the resources of the clinical staff who are doing their day jobs so we have maintained the services we need to provide for the people who need our practices. We have done that by pooling our resources, bringing people in to do extra days on a weekend, people who are part-time are coming in through the week. We have volunteers, people coming back from retirement, GPs who have worked for us previously who are all pitching in so we can run this and run our normal business at the same time."

Vaccination centre staff Jennie Tomlinson and Janet Rose in their Red Nose gear. (45307884)
Vaccination centre staff Jennie Tomlinson and Janet Rose in their Red Nose gear. (45307884)

Bank nurse Isobel Walker, who normally works at Grantham Hospital, has been vaccinating people at The Meres since January. She believes she has vaccinated about 2,000 people.

Isobel said: "I think it's brilliant. We are doing really, really well. The uptake is brilliant and it's really great to be part of it and contributing so let's hope that helps the situation and we can all start living normally again. I am dedicating my services to this at the moment because we all need to plough our energies into it. The more we can vaccinate the better."

Joni Pulfrey, a hairdresser in Grantham, decided to volunteer for the vaccination centre while she was furloughed from her job. She said: "I have been here about four or five times a week since January and I am really enjoying it."

Volunteer Joni Pulfrey and staff member Isobel Walker at The Meres vaccination centre. (45313358)
Volunteer Joni Pulfrey and staff member Isobel Walker at The Meres vaccination centre. (45313358)

Joni helps with computer work, uploading information as people are vaccinated, as part of her volunteering. "I am loving it. Everybody is so friendly. I work part-time so I should be able to continue volunteering even when I return to work."

Lincolnshire NHS Clinical Commissioning Group says that it has enough vaccines arriving to vavccinate the latest cohort by mid April and will spend some time delivering second doses over the coming weeks for those people that are due them.

The CCG says over-50s can now book online and must make sure they attend their appointment. They are also being urged to make sure their doctor's surgery has all their up-to-date information including a phone number they can be contacted on so the surgery can let them know when they can attend their vaccination.



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