Main image: One of the two vaccination pods at Canolfan Gorseinon Centre, which seats 10 people.
A new Mass Vaccination Centre (MVC) has opened in Swansea to increase the number of people being protected.
Canolfan Gorseinon Centre, which is near Aldi on Millers Drive, Gorseinon, is the third MVC in the Swansea Bay University Health Board area, following Margam Orangery and Bay Field Hospital on Fabian Way.
The initial focus of the new centre will be on vaccinating those in their late 70s in line with the Welsh Government’s ambition to protect all those in the top four vulnerable groups by the middle of next month.
The centre will be open for a limited number of days in its first week. It will then build its operation to deliver hundreds of doses a day to help safeguard the health of residents.
Those in their late 70s join the over 80s, who are getting their doses from GP surgeries.
Both groups are being seen in tandem – but in different places – to enable them to be protected as soon as possible.
If you are elderly but haven’t heard anything yet, please be patient – you will be contacted.
Arrangements for clinically very vulnerable people are underway. Details coming soon.
Frontline health and social care staff are also continuing to be vaccinated at the MVCs, while care home residents are being visited in their homes.
Vaccinations are being done by invitation only. People will be contacted by letter or phone when it is their turn to be given their vaccination at their surgery, where they live or at Margam, Gorseinon or Bay Field Hospital vaccination centres.
Those invited for vaccination at Canolfan Gorseinon Centre are urged not to telephone the centre itself if they need to change or cancel their appointment, but to follow the instructions in their letter.
Mary Roslyn Jones, 79, was among the first 10 people to be vaccinated on Thursday lunchtime.
Having suffered a broken back and Covid-19, Mary was thrilled to be protected.
“It’s best to have it,” she said.
“I am so glad they are doing it here and I didn’t have to go to the Bay Field Hospital.”
“It was absolutely painless and everybody has been friendly and helpful,” said Phyllis Reece, 79, who is 80 in April.
“I would encourage everybody to have it done. I am really pleased.”
And despite being afraid of the injection Ieuan Thomas, 80, was “delighted” to receive the Covid vaccination.
“I don’t go out much and I am very, very careful, but I think it will give me a bit more confidence.”
Welcoming the latest progress, Dr Keith Reid, Swansea Bay University Health Board’s Director of Public Heath, said: “We are rolling out the vaccine as quickly and as safely as possible – as supply allows - and this new centre enables us to reach even more people in the community.
“We know there is concern that we have begun to vaccinate other age groups when some over 80s have yet to be seen. But please be reassured, no one in these other age groups is taking slots meant for older people.
“We are vaccinating these groups side by side so we can protect the most vulnerable people as quickly as possible.”
Dr Reid added: “So far we have vaccinated more than 25,000 people across Swansea and Neath Port Talbot and that figure is rising by more than 1,000 every day.
“But it is too early for us to leave the Covid rules behind. Everyone, even those who have been vaccinated, must stick to them now. Unless you are in a support bubble, you can only mix with people in your household. Don’t meet up with friends or visit their homes. Only go out when it’s absolutely essential, wear a face covering in indoor public spaces and wash your hands regularly.”
Canolfan Centre in Gorseinon, which is run by Gorseinon Development Trust, was chosen as a mass vaccination centre after a number of potential sites were carefully scrutinised. It was a site in Swansea which stood out as the best able to provide all the facilities needed, including accessibility, open space, car parking, size and safety considerations.
Rob Stewart, Leader of Swansea Council, said: “The Canolfan Centre in Gorseinon is a well-known community centre in the west of Swansea. It’s a popular and very well-placed location to perform yet another vital service for residents across the city.
“These are challenging times and I want to pay tribute to council workers and all those who have helped get the MVC up and running as quickly as they have. They are making a vital contribution to getting the most vulnerable vaccinated and helping keep our communities safe.
“The Canolfan Centre will play a crucial role, with tens of thousands of doses of the vaccine set to be delivered there over the coming months. In the meantime, it is absolutely crucial that we all remain vigilant and continue to follow the public health advice on handwashing, social distancing and face coverings.”
Allan Rudge, a trustee of the Gorseinon Development Trust, said: “The trustees, staff and the tenants of Canolfan Gorseinon Centre are pleased to have been able to make the building available to host these vaccination sessions.
“We, the trustees, are grateful for the support of Swansea Council in making this happen.”
Delivering this vital facility within a very short timescale has required multiple agencies to work closely together. Swansea Council staff undertook a range of preparatory works to ensure the centre was ready to deliver vaccinations, with support from Canolfan Centre staff, Legal Services, Education and Leisure Services, Emergency Planning and the Wellbeing and Safety team.
There are two vaccination pods within the Canolfan Centre, enabling 20 people to be vaccinated at a time. There are 10 chairs per pod. The whole process from checking in to leaving takes only around half an hour. Patients must wait 15 minutes after vaccination to ensure they are feeling well.