'Wonderful day' as Norfolk's second mass vaccination centre opens
- Credit: Ian Burt
Hundreds of people have taken a step closer to normality after being administered life-saving jabs at a newly-opened vaccination centre.
A steady flow of patients arrived at King's Lynn Corn Exchange throughout Monday, with the venue having opened as a mass inoculation site.
It has become Norfolk's second large-scale centre, following in the footsteps of the food court at Castle Quarter, Norwich, which opened in January.
Two further sites are set to open in Attleborough and North Walsham this Wednesday and Saturday respectively, while another will be unveiled in Wisbech on Friday.
Over-70s and those deemed extremely clinically vulnerable began arriving at the Corn Exchange on Monday morning, before being welcomed by staff and directed to an efficient queuing system.
NHS workers leading the roll-out were flanked by Army and RAF personnel, who conducted health checks, administered jabs and marshalled proceedings.
Among those invited to King's Lynn was Rachel Pooley, who lives in Dereham.
Mrs Pooley received a letter on Saturday morning and admitted it was the first time in her life she had booked an appointment online.
Having finally received her first dose of the vaccine, the 73-year-old said it had been a "wonderful day".
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"Everything today has been really good," added Mrs Pooley. "Even the parking was easy and everybody has been so pleasant.
"I felt the jab go in, but you'll put up with anything to prevent getting Covid.
"I've been waiting for it because my mum is in a care home and is almost 106.
"Everybody's jumping up and down with excitement now to be able to have the jab, and we're looking forward to the country being in a better place."
Also pleased to receive their vaccines at the Corn Exchange were Derek and Joan Downs, who were given a list of potential venues and selected King's Lynn.
The couple used to work in the London Ambulance Service and were delighted with the day's proceedings.
"We're very impressed with this today," said Mr Downs, 73. "We were met by people who knew exactly what they were doing and it's super to see it all run so smoothly.
"Coming here gives you confidence. I think only this country could organise it so well, and now we’ve seen it first-hand.
"Neither of us are young and the danger is, if you catch it, there is a real risk. Having been in the ambulance service we've been hearing all about friends and colleagues dying - it's so sad."
Mrs Downs, 74, added: "We have not been going out at all - just once a month to the chemist to get medication.
"The worst thing has been not seeing our brand new baby granddaughter - that's been really hard."
Colin Morrison, from Downham Market, was also full of praise for the experience.
“Everything’s gone very smoothly, the people were nice and it has all run to time,” said the 74-year-old, who works as a cable joiner for UK Power Networks.
“I haven’t really been effected in terms of work, apart from the first 10 weeks of lockdown so it hasn’t been bad in that sense.
“Everything else I have missed – going to the pub being top of the list. You just cannot do anything. I just go out and get a bit of exercise and that’s it.”
Overseeing the opening day were staff from Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, which has been responsible for the running of large-scale sites.
David Vickers, medical director at the trust, said feedback on the Corn Exchange had been overwhelmingly positive.
“Members of the public have been really pleased,” he said. “They are grateful to have the vaccine and know how important it is in our ongoing fight against coronavirus.
"People are beginning to recognise this is the one thing that will allow us to get back to normal.
"Every day we'll be vaccinating hundreds of people, but on opening day it has been slightly reduced just so we can iron out any teething problems."
Dr Vickers also issued advice regarding appointments, highlighting the importance of waiting for an official NHS invite.
"What I would say is, if you haven't got an appointment, please do not come," he added.
"We're urging people not to arrive early, but if you are late don't worry - we are not going to turn you away."