Chichester vaccinations: Here's how it's going at Westgate Leisure Centre

Vaccinations began at Westgate Leisure Centre began yesterday (Thursday, February 18) so our reporter Joe Stack went along to talk to the people involved and find out how the scheme is going.

Friday, 19th February 2021, 5:32 pm

The latest Covid-19 vaccination facility is being run by Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (SCFT).

The site opened on Thursday 18 February at Westgate Leisure Centre in Chichester.

Leader of Chichester District Council, Eileen Lintill said she was 'very pleased' to see the site up-and-running.

She said: "They have worked really hard to get it turned around and operating. I can't thank the doctors, nurses and volunteers for their commitment to this enough - it is a life-saving facility.

"I'm very pleased that we have been able to have regular meeting with the NHS Foundation Trust and they have listened to what we had to say about concerns hence we are here this morning so a huge thank you to all of them for their hard work."

Residents who had been invited along for their first dose spoke to this newspaper.

Many expressed their excitement as they queued for the jab and thanked the teams of clinical staff and volunteers for their work.

A vaccine dose being prepared

Margaret Bird, 67, from Rustington said: "It's amazing, I am so excited. I'm just so thankful to everybody who has played a part in doing this today,

"I'm most definitely optimistic and I just want to get this jab and then the next one. I'm really very pleased this centre is here for us - I can't wait to see the back of all this."

Paul Hopper, 69, from Westergate said he was 'feeling good' as he queued to receive his jab.

Asked if he was looking forward to getting vaccinated, he said: "Everyone should be! I think we have all had just about enough and could do with some normality."

Leader of Chichester District Council Eileen at the site this morning

Mr Hopper said he had 'no qualms whatsoever' in the process of getting the jab.

"It's wonderful, my wife has already had her jab at St Richard's and has had no ill effects."

Duane Wadey has been working as a vaccinator at St Richard's Hospital and as clinical lead at Westgate Leisure Centre.

Duane had high praise of the teams working to vaccinated and said: "It has been amazing. Everybody has been really happy to come through the door and with such beaming smiles - you could see it through the masks.

Margaret Bird, 67, from Rustington

Duane said the set up has worked 'really well' but admitted he the build up had been 'nerve-racking'.

He added: "There has been a lot resting on my shoulders and I am really pleased that it has come out the way it has."

Karen Woods, 67, from Selsey, said she was also looking forward to getting the jab. A widow, Karen is part of her son's bubble in Berkshire and spends a few days a week with her grandchildren.

"It has been lonely at times," she said, before calling the operation being run at Westgate 'excellent'.

"It's just one more step towards us all being safe again - It's excellent. I don't like needles but I'll be alright."

Karen praised the team at Westgate and said she had been able to book her second jab when she booked her first.

Karen Woods, 67, from Selsey

"It's nice to know that it has been booked."

Karen will return to the centre in May to received her second dose.

Ex-Air Force Tony Bullen, 66, offered his time to the cause as a volunteer.

"I used to work at the Bognor Hospital when the first lockdown hit. I was delivering PPE using my own van. Then I got a call and I said 'let me know if anything else pops-up' so when this came up and I was available.

"It is a remarkable operation."

When asked if she was looking forward to getting vaccinated, Kathy Perry, 65 from Arundel, said: "I certainly am."

Kathy was queuing up to receive the jab when she spotted an old friend issuing the vaccine.

The two were unable to have a proper catch-up due to the jab being over and done with in less than a minute.

With the announcement about the new site coming on the same day as the opening, immunization lead Rosanna Raven said all sites have had 'quite a quick turnaround' adding: "Actually this one has benefited from learning from all the others.

"It's a really positive thing because the staff we have got here have got experience from having worked in other centres and having worked in other centres.

"This specific centre there was a lot of things in the pipeline but a lot of the staff had already been trained at the Brighton centre so we'd gone through that.

"There were a lot of staff ready."

A target of 1,000 does a day has been set and Rosanna this will increase as time goes on.

Duane Wadey, clinical lead
Paul Hopper, 69, from Westergate
Volunteer Tony Bullen, 66, from Felpham