A huge partnership effort saw Walsall’s Saddlers Vaccination Centre open its doors a year ago on 15 March 2021 – and since that day almost 250,000 COVID-19 jabs have been administered to people of all ages.
The vital vaccination effort was led by Walsall Together, a partnership of health, social, housing, voluntary and community association organisations that are working together to improve physical and mental health outcomes, promote wellbeing and reduce inequalities across the borough.
The centre delivered up to 1,000 vaccinations a day to start with but had a number of bumper days when up to 1,700 people received theirs. By 31 May last year 100,000 vaccinations had been given.
Susan Parkes from Beechdale in Walsall was one of the first to use the centre
She has six grandchildren and said she really wanted to see them, knowing she is protected and she isn’t putting them at risk.
She said: “When I first heard about the vaccine I wasn’t going to have it but I changed my mind once it was announced. I think we should all be protected – it’s just something we need to do.
“We are all fed up and have had enough so hopefully this vaccine is the way forward now.”
Over the last few months the centre has been giving booster vaccinations and offering flu jabs to healthcare staff while in August last year hundreds of 16 and 17-year-olds took up their chance to have the vaccination.
They ranged from young people keen to return to “some sense of normality” to others who had lost loved ones to the virus.
In February this year jabs for Clinically Extremely Vulnerable 5-11 year-olds were offered.
Steve Wheaton, Director of Operations Vaccination, said: “It has been an incredible year for the centre with the requirement to deliver at pace in order to keep our communities safe from the seemingly never-ending impact of COVID-19 and its variants relentless.
“Reflecting on our contribution as a team we should all be proud of what we have managed to achieve and thanks go to all the amazing staff and volunteers for their hard work, commitment and passion and also to colleagues at the council for letting us use their premises for this mammoth programme.
“Over the last 12 months we have become the training centre for “new recruits” onto the programme across the Black Country which is testament to, and acknowledgment of, the quality of care we are providing here and the confidence the system has in our combined abilities to lead by example.
“Every challenge presented to us has been accepted with professionalism, focus and determination, with our communities at the heart of everything we do. Our local mantra has been: “Walsall, we may be small but we are mighty!”
The centre was visited by a team from NHSE/I last month and many areas of Best Practice were identified.
Steve added that the team also praised the fact that an administration team led by Shaz Matloob focused on contacting more than 130,000 overdue individuals – not just for Walsall but across the Black Country and West Birmingham.
“I’d like to give my personal thanks to everyone who has played their part in making the Saddlers Vaccination Centre such a success story for the Black Country. It has been a privilege to be able to deliver a service that we all know has helped make such a difference to our residents’ lives.”