by Aria Babu
Monday, 11
January 2021
Behind the news
11:19

I volunteer at a vaccine centre, and I’m worried

Without better management, these could become superspreader events
by Aria Babu
Vaccination centres are at risk of becoming coronavirus hotbeds

I spent Sunday volunteering at a vaccination centre, and I’m seriously worried that some vaccination hubs are at risk of becoming superspreader sites.

The day began at a youth centre. All the volunteers took lateral flow tests, which all came out negative. These detect Covid-19 in only half of asymptomatic people but they are better than nothing. However, once we got into the building, my heart sank.

The whole operation was set up in an indoor basketball court. Half of it was dedicated to vaccinations and the other half was full of blue plastic chairs. There were large windows, but if they could be opened, they weren’t. The only source of ventilation were the doors in and out.

The blue chairs were not quite two metres apart and when we started bringing people in, it got worse.

The NHS guidance says that people should wear surgical masks when coming into the vaccine centre. On the surface, this seems sensible. It is because we don’t know if people have been washing their cloth masks frequently enough. In practice, this means asking elderly people, many with arthritis, to very slowly change masks indoors, surrounded by other vulnerable people.

Once in a centre, a patient goes through four stages. First, the patient queues as someone makes sure they are eligible to join the next queue. Second, they queue to be registered. Third, they queue to be vaccinated. Then, after being vaccinated, they sit and are observed. Each of these queues are rows of chairs, because we cannot expect everyone from the 80+ cohort to stand for too long. Most of these chairs were about a metre and a half from each other.

The average patient going through one of these centres spends a significant amount of time within two metres of about ten different people. This isn’t even accounting for the fact that very vulnerable people often struggle with the system. They walk in the wrong direction, use the bathroom a lot, take their masks off, lean in very close when talking, and often they have carers who add to the room’s body-count.

We gave out about 400 vaccinations yesterday. That’s pretty impressive. Considering how high the infection rate is, and how vulnerable the people we were vaccinating are, we may have saved twenty lives. But I have spent the whole day worrying that, in the process, we may have given an additional twenty coronavirus infections.

We now know that Covid-19 can linger in the air for hours in a poorly ventilated space; we also know that after a physically distanced choir practice in the USA, one Covid-positive person infected a further thirty one singers. The BMJ estimates that a high occupancy, poorly ventilated space, even with face coverings and complete silence, is a high risk. So to gather large numbers of vulnerable people into a poorly ventilated space to be vaccinated seems unwise to say the least.

This is not the fault of the people setting up the vaccine hubs. The woman who was directing volunteers has been working over twelve hours every day this week, working in the centre from 8am to 8pm. She is following the NHS guidance to the letter and knows exactly what she’s meant to do on distances, masks, observation times, and one-way systems. 

Public Health England and the NHS could start by updating the guidance on how to run a Covid secure centre. Activities like wiping down the seats for vaccination (but not for queueing), offer minimal value. Instead they should try to move post-vaccination monitoring outdoors. We could try to minimise the number of checks people go through so they decrease their exposure to staff and volunteers. And we could learn from Israel’s example, and start doing drive-through vaccination centre like some of the Covid-test sites

We’re still in the process of setting up all our vaccination hubs, so there is still time to make adjustments before this gets worse and we end up with full blown outbreaks.

Aria is a policy researcher and the founder of “TheTakeMachine“.

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David Rooney
David Rooney
1 year ago

Some very reasonable points brought up within the article, however if as mentioned no available windows were open to help with the air flow and seats were not quite 2m apart and as you report when bringing people in it got worse, then I am afraid the individual responsible for setting up the hub must take some responsibility. They have quite clearly not followed the advice to the letter as stated, I know there will be issues which will need ironing out.

I hope that the issues you raised in the article were brought to the attention of those in charge at the time as well and acted upon because I would want to know as a volunteer especially, if they were not why not.

Nicholas C
Nicholas C
1 year ago

Sadly this dosent surprise me.
My Mum is 86 and due for her vaccination on Friday. I can only imagine what it’s like trying organise and escort 30 or 40 people of a similar age with varying mobility and other age related health issues! Also, I maybe be wrong here, but shouldn’t the volunteers be given the vaccination as a matter of course?

davisbr
davisbr
1 year ago
Reply to  Nicholas C

Some authorities are giving the volunteers vaccinations and others aren’t. This seems completely wrongheaded to me.

They are asking volunteers to donate/commit to at least 8 hours a week for 12-16 weeks.

I work evenings so I was going to volunteer – until I was told Essex is not offering vaccinations to volunteers. That made it a non-starter for me.

I have a wife and kids – how could I possible justify exposing myself to hundreds of people for 8 hours a week for months and risk taking the virus home?

I am not sure why anyone would volunteer that wasn’t very young, single and with no family around.

It makes no sense…

Clive Page
Clive Page
1 year ago

I don’t understand why “the only source of ventilation were the doors in and out” – surely a building like this, even if not equipped with air conditioning, has some sort of forced air heating and ventilation. Had it been switched off? Did you ask for it to be turned on?

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago

Although this article makes some good specific points, in my view it is just another example how unfortunately it is not practically possible to make many essential activities entirely ‘covid-secure’. It is always seemed obvious to me that large centralised vaccination centres, however much easier they might make vaccine distribution, are very unsuitable for vaccinating elderly and other vulnerable people.

My mum (92), very immobile and with incontinence issues, is already very averse to getting vaccinated. This has nothing to do with vaccine-scepticism but about exactly the sorts of practical problems of queuing, using the toilets etc mentioned in this article. Standing or sitting in freezing cold January temperatures would simply guarantee she would not attend.

Malcolm Webb
Malcolm Webb
1 year ago

Rather dispiriting. Why didn’t the volunteer even propose opening the windows? Is the difference between 1.5 and 2 metres distance that important and isn’t it better to get the vaccine into the arms of the vulnerable ASAP – so at very least if they do succumb to the disease they have some protection from its worst effects? Does this sort of carping by the worried well get us anywhere ?
Vaccinating all the staff including volunteers would be a sensible move. Volunteers opening closed windows would be another one.

Kiran Grimm
Kiran Grimm
1 year ago

Thanks for that insider’s view of the great vaccination drive. I am not optimistic ““ British powers of organisation can be very half-hearted.

It need not be that way. My local GP surgery carried out an excellent flu vaccination programme in October. It was run in conveyer-belt style with all the patients socially distanced, masked and allocated time-slots. Waiting times were very short. I received my jab in under 10 minutes.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  Kiran Grimm

The problem here is that every person vaccinated needs to be monitored for 15 minutes after the jab although I don’t know why. The maximum number of people in the output queue limits the rate of vaccinations.

Kiran Grimm
Kiran Grimm
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Smith

It should be possible incorporate that 15 minutes into a sequenced time slot. The main problems listed in the article seem to occur as a result of keeping people waiting for too long.

Vic Pearson
Vic Pearson
1 year ago

I agree there are will some increase in infection in some cases. BUT what everyone here is forgetting this virus like the flu has been seen to be seasonal and the winter peak will pass. Restrictions can only flatten the curve of cases. There will be just as many but over a longer time so helping NHS.
And remember what the government first said. If you get it 99% of people will only get a mild man cold and help the herd immunity that vaccines will further help achieve.

Anna Tanneberger
Anna Tanneberger
1 year ago
Reply to  Vic Pearson

I am 66 and have never had a flu jab, and still walk up and down the mountain once a week. Being vaccinated against a disease with a 99% survival rate and a very specific victim profile is beyond ridiculous. Just keep these old dears out of harm’s way, for goodness sake and drop their groceries off at the gate. The risk of a compromised health situation caused by the vaccination (any vaccination) in the form of pathogenic priming or of vaccine-induced autoimmunity must be weighed against the risk of a poor health outcome as a result of contracting the virus.

Shalal Sadullah
Shalal Sadullah
1 year ago

This is a vaccine centre. Its just as shambolic in an NHS hospital vaccinating staff. You apply online- but on the day there comes the dreaded A4 with every question under the world including DNR status! When you are done there is another station in which you give all the same details again to book the second dose. All in all 1 hour 15 minutes for a 10 second jab! With 40-50 people around!Bureaucracy has turned vaccination to a superspreader event- more importantly into a painfully slow process which will never deliver the numbers we are trying to achieve a week if we continue with this so called notion of ‘perfection’

LUKE LOZE
LUKE LOZE
1 year ago

The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic
organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its
enemies.

People could be injected by staff through the window in their own cars, told to wait around for 15 minutes, job done (not perfect for everyone, but maybe at least half).

Surely this has been known about for 9+ months now? There must be a million and one ways to go about it better, and more than a million eager volunteers.

Getting a DNR status question on your consent form would hardly fill me with confidence either.

Peter Whitehead
Peter Whitehead
1 year ago

“The day began at a youth centre. All the volunteers took lateral flow tests, which all came out negative. These detect Covid-19 in only half of asymptomatic people but they are better than nothing”…..
Lateral Flow tests are sensitive to whole (live?) virus so they won’t detect dead (non-infective) Sars-Cov-2 unlike PCR tests that find any old or new RNA pieces. So, no problem and, if better than nothing, then certainly better than the hopelessly inaccurate PCR test that is wrecking this country and half the world!

Ian Perkins
Ian Perkins
1 year ago

“Instead they should try to move post-vaccination monitoring outdoors.”
Make the elderly and vulnerable wait outdoors in January in the UK for however long it is, fifteen or fifty minutes?

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

It’s 15 minutes. A lot of people will have got there by car, either driving themselves or being driven by a carer, friend or family member. It sounds a very sensible suggestion.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

And a lot of people will not! In any case, if those vaccinated do have an adverse reaction, then you would need to get them out of the car again, walking to wherever attention / treatment could be given. Car parks are often some distance from where vaccinations are carried out.

In general, as usual throughout this pandemic, there are a host of assumptions behind this programme based on how middle-class people live there lives and the resources typically available to them. The highest risk areas are inner cities, with often poorer populations who do not have access to cars.

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

So let’s assume they walked to wherever the vaccination is given. Waiting outside for 15 minutes would seem more sensible at that point. It’s what I’d do anyway.

My mum is getting her vaccination in a village a couple of miles from where she lives and which is on a steep hill. The assumption in this case is presumably that almost everyone will get there by car – apparently, there’s a big car park next to the venue. It will be a fair walk for anyone without a car.

robaddie123
robaddie123
1 year ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

So patient waiting outside in car has anaphylactic reaction/ becomes unwell- what then?. As a health care professional I would rather patients were observed within a facility where other staff were on hand to give assistance rather than having to leave the building to help someone in a car.

robaddie123
robaddie123
1 year ago
Reply to  Ian Perkins

With the staff who are monitoring also outside?

Warren Alexander
Warren Alexander
1 year ago

I can well understand why there are problems such as the ones described. After all, the government has only had eight or nine months to plan the vaccination programme and mitigate any risks in bringing large numbers of people together. It would be unreasonable to expect a form of planning that took into account the number of volunteers and clinical staff needed, the number of patients to be vaccinated and the suitability of premises used in such a short space of time.

G Mascord
G Mascord
1 year ago

This does sound worrying and I can’t understand why there are not more drive through centres.
I recently met someone who had her first vaccination through the window of a car, in the car park of a leisure centre. She then waited in the car for 15mins before a doctor checked with her that she felt ok. This seems like a much more sensible way to operate the whole thing.

Charles Gillow
Charles Gillow
1 year ago

“The advice from the RCN is that there is no need to keep patients waiting unless this is specifically indicated in the summary of product characteristics for a particular vaccine” See https://www.rcn.org.uk/clin

Billy Fild
Billy Fild
1 year ago

Why do so many assume the Media & Govt is telling us the whole truth? Alternative views here I think all ought consider for what they are worth or not worth:-:-

Dr Hodkinson (PS There are other many other Dr’s saying much the same & “internet character assignation’s” soon follow this

https://www.bitchute.com/vi

also,

america’s frontlinedoctors.com

https://www.americasfrontli

Also,

the great barrington declaration

https://gbdeclaration.org

Also,

DOCTORS AROUND THE WORLD ISSUE DIRE WARNING: DO NOT GET THE COVID VACCINE!

https://www.bitchute.com/vi

Too much seemingly expert commentary that does not conform to “narrative” is going down the “internet memory hole” …sometimes within hours…why?

Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
1 year ago

Pretty worrying. My mum is getting her injection on Friday. I hope it’s better organised than this article indicates. I’ll suggest to her that she asks if she can wait outside in her car after she has had the jab.

Kelly Mitchell
Kelly Mitchell
1 year ago

Oh, no! Superspreader stuff. Latest fear porn attempt.
FAIL! 3 people care, indoctrinated sheople, je veut dire.

Graff von Frankenheim
Graff von Frankenheim
1 year ago

Now imagine the same scene as the author describes but now all the same people come back for another jab: everything will be the same, no improvement whatsoever because the jab doesn’t make you immune from infection or make you less infectious to others. It only makes the symptoms less severe. The next installment of this article can already be written at this point in time.

Billy Fild
Billy Fild
1 year ago

Why is Unheard Censoring this?…
I repost below it’s very important these “credible Professionals” ought be “HERD” by all. Many Professionals are saying similar things. Who in the World knows what these Vaccines will do to folks down the line? See this:-

Why do so many assume the Media & Govt is telling us the whole truth? Alternative views here I think all ought consider for what they are worth or not worth:-:-

Dr Hodkinson (PS There are other many other Dr’s saying much the same & “internet character assignation’s” soon follow this

https://www.bitchute.com/vi

also,

america’s frontlinedoctors.com

https://www.americasfrontli

Also,

the great barrington declaration

https://gbdeclaration.org

Also,

DOCTORS AROUND THE WORLD ISSUE DIRE WARNING: DO NOT GET THE COVID VACCINE!

https://www.bitchute.com/vi

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
1 year ago

Thought using Salisbury cathedral was good. Medically and culturally. Big open spaces. Others such as Ely would be good.

helenas.computer
helenas.computer
1 year ago

I would like to know why a thread on Mumsnet which said pretty much exactly the same as this article, about a local vaccination centre, was deleted by Mumsnet admins. I find that incredibly sinister.

David Hodge
David Hodge
1 year ago

Just to add, I took my elderly mother to a mass vaccination centre in Stevenage on Monday. About 50 people were crammed in the middle of a poorly-ventilated room. It was impossible to maintain even a 1 metre separation from the other attendees, for the 20 mins or so we were there. There were 3 staff seated right next to one another at the table where receiving the vaccination, and being a bit deaf she naturally leaned right next to their faces to hear their list of questions.

A bit scarier than I would have liked. In fact I would estimate it to be the worst virus spreading-opportunity I’ve seen since Feb 2020. But still, the people there did their bit & she received the jab. Hopefully in a few weeks she will be better protected. Fingers crossed no new coughs before then…

Michelle Johnston
Michelle Johnston
1 year ago

My view all along has been the priority wth Vaccines should be:-

1) Care Workers.

2) Low Income Families.

The truth of this is the 75+ age group are vulnerable to a highly contagious Virus which for those fit and healthy between 0-60 poses very modest risk.

The 75+ must shield and those who look after them or live with them most be vaccinated first.

This article demonstrates asking them to leave their homes with all their attendant issues of cognition and physical challenges simply increases the risk of them being hospitalised and they are the group that are overwhelming the hospitals.

Cut down the supply of 75+ to the Virus and you solve the hospitalisation issue. Shield and vaccinate anyone who has to help them.

Brian Dorsley
Brian Dorsley
1 year ago

Not sure why everyone is in such a rush to get this vaccine. I think I’ll wait a few years until it’s tested on the rest of the population before I give it a try.