Kentish Express Ashford & District

Thousands get jab as queues ease

- By Sam Williams swilliams@thekmgroup. co.uk

Thousands of people have now received their Covid-19 jabs at Kent’s first large-scale vaccinatio­n centre as problems with queues have been resolved.

The centre opened in the former Debenhams store in Folkestone at the end of January and is offering the coronaviru­s vaccine to people living within a 45-minute car journey.

In the first few days, reports emerged of long waiting times at the centre but the issue is now resolved according to the Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust, which is running the site.

Pictures from last month showed scores of people waiting outside the former shop, which has been empty since Debenhams left in January 2020.

It has since been purchased by the district council and renamed ‘Folca’.

Gordon Flack, deputy chief executive of the trust, said waiting times have been reduced: “We are pleased that increasing the number of stewards and volunteers, as well as making other improvemen­ts inside our vaccinatio­n centre, has reduced waiting times.

“As we increase the number of vulnerable people we vaccinate each day, we ask that people arrive on time, rather than early, for their appointmen­t to avoid congestion and stay two-metres apart.”

The Debenhams vaccine centre was the first large-scale site to open in Kent, but two more have since opened in Gravesend and Tonbridge.

Sue Whigham, who lives near Tenterden, received her first jab last week at the town centre building, and says she was “impressed with the whole experience”.

She added: “The session was run like clockwork with efficient and friendly staff.

“There was a small queue which moved fast – approximat­ely six/eight people.

“I was processed and then had the jab quickly and left.

“I must have got to the building at about 2.15pm and was out by about 2.45pm.

“I didn’t have any sense of a long wait and had there been, there were a few strategica­lly placed chairs for those who might need them.

“I was so impressed with the whole experience.”

Ashford MP Damian Green praised the work going on at the Folkestone site.

“I’d encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they’re asked to,” he told the Kentish Express on Monday.

“I’m glad that, as I suspected, the teething problems have been sorted out – that’s been a factor at a number of the big centres.

“I’m very glad the number of vaccinatio­ns has been consistent­ly high in Folkestone.

“I’m confident we’ll hit the target of the four most vulnerable groups being vaccinated by the end of next week.

“I think in the long run the use of pharmacies might be the best way forward so everyone has a centre reasonably local to them.”

‘Increasing the number of stewards and other improvemen­ts have reduced waiting times...’

 ??  ?? The former Debenhams store was the first mass vaccinatio­n centre in Kent
The former Debenhams store was the first mass vaccinatio­n centre in Kent
 ??  ?? Queuing issues at the centre have now improved
Queuing issues at the centre have now improved
 ??  ?? The centre opened last month and has now delivered thousands of vaccines
The centre opened last month and has now delivered thousands of vaccines

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