NHS Fife transforms former M&S store into region’s biggest mass vaccination centre

The doors are set to open at Fife’s biggest mass vaccination centre in the heart of Kirkcaldy High Street.

By Allan Crow
Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 9:54 am

NHSFife has taken over the entire floor space of the former M&S store, and created an airport-style lay out which will guide thousands of people through the system in the coming weeks.

It is one of four mass centres planned - but is the biggest in terms of size and scale.

A huge amount of work has been carried out behind closed doors to get it ready to open early next month.

Registration at the new mass vaccine centre in Kirkcaldy (Fife Photo Agency)

The one-way lay out takes you from the front door to registration and into the main waiting area.

Staff will then take you past what was once the foodhall, up the stairs to the back of the store where there are 25 vaccination booths.

Once you have had your jag, you complete the circle, heading back down the ramp into the observation area and out.

For Biernet Carey, facilities officer, getting it ready has been a huge operation.

Vaccination booths at the Kirkcaldy centre (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

“It has been very, very busy,” she said. “There is huge scope to the work involved.

“The estate team has been superb getting everything in place, and M&S have been fantastic.”

The centre will handle vaccinations for the under-50s.

The four mass centres will handle around 5000 appointments per day, and that will involve hundreds of staff.

The team at the helm of the centre (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

Placing them in town centres will also make them more accessible than other mass centres which sit on the outskirts of cities.

And the new venues will also allow NHS Fife to increase capacity as vaccine supplies step up.

Ben Hannan chief pharmacist, said they have a vital role to play.

“The younger population is maybe healthy and at less risk of Covid, but it is really important that it takes up offer of vaccination when it can to reduce transmission,” he said.

Inside the new mass vaccination centre (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

“We cannot be complacent.”

The vaccination programme is the most significant health intervention in 100 years. - and it has required a huge effort from across the NHS.

“We have never carried out a vaccination programme of the whole population on this scale,” added Mr Hannan.

“Flu jabs are a huge undertaking, but this is much bigger with multiple doses - and we are working at pace.”

NHS Fife now has over 200 trained staff ready to play their part - GPs, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, physios, and podiatrists - backed up by an army of support staff ranging from admin and IT to cleaners.

“I have to commend all the staff. They have been superb,” said Mr Hannan.

“Everything has come together.”

The teams have had to adapt to working with different vaccines which require different storage facilities, and co-ordinate a take up rate which has remained exceptionally high.

“There is a sense of duty as people see the importance of it,” he said. “Take up rates of over 90% are unheard of for a vaccine programme. They have been phenomenal.

“Stage one was getting vaccine centres set up in locations close to people’s homes. They will continue to operate as we add four mass centres.

“We want to be able to move at pace and also have the flexibility as supply speeds up.

"We will not start at maximum capacity, but I am delighted with how it has come together.

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