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Flagship COVID vaccination site to close after delivering more than 200,000 jabs (with video content

The largest COVID-19 vaccination site in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent closes its doors after more than two years and delivering in excess of 200,000 vaccinations.

Staff at the Daniel Platt Business Park in Tunstall will deliver the last dose of vaccine today (Wednesday 15 March), operated by Midlands Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

The site opened on 25 January 2021. Queen’s Nurse Tracy Hall has been the Clinical Lead at the site since day one and postponed her retirement to help battle COVID-19.

She said: “We had to gather together a whole team of staff and volunteers from scratch to open the centre and on the first day we had TV cameras and radio here and I really had no idea how it was going to go.

“It has been very moving but also a complete pleasure to work here. In the early days we had elderly patients who had been self-isolating. We brought them inside and needed to ask them some questions about their health. Some of them were literally going hoarse and losing their voices because they hadn’t spoken to anyone in months.

“We’ve also had to deal with many people who are severely needle-phobic. On a few occasions we’ve had to spend a couple of hours reassuring people enough to allow themselves to be jabbed. We even had one boy who was scared of being touched, although he was so grateful afterwards.”

The site was visited by then Prime Minister Boris Johnson several weeks after it opened. It became the base for Children and Young People vaccination clinics, and was also one of the first sites in the country to offer the Moderna vaccine which was a great advance as it was easier to store than previous vaccines.

Emma Holmes, Deputy Operational Lead for the site said: “There have been some huge challenges. In December 2021 when the Omicron variant first appeared Government decided overnight that everyone aged 18 was able to have a booster immediately. The team were amazing and we had to make the necessary arrangements overnight, and the following day we vaccinated over 1,200 people and numbers were similar every day thought December.

She added: “It really was all down to the staff and the volunteers. It was no-one’s day job to work here so our staff all had to be redeployed from elsewhere. And we had volunteers from absolutely all walks of life, including pilots, teachers, some who had retired from very senior NHS positions and lots of student medics.”

Tracy added: “I’ve worked for the NHS for 39 years and I can honestly say this has been the highlight.”

Samantha Buckingham, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Integrated Care Board’s COVID-19 Vaccination Pharmacy and Programme Lead said: “The success of the entire vaccination programme has been a tribute to our staff, our army of volunteers and the people who have come forward to be vaccinated, sometimes overcoming real fears and uncertainties. It’s difficult to remember a time when we weren’t vaccinating at Tunstall and I would like to thank everyone in any way connected with the site.”

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