GP Practices come together to provide a large scale drive-through flu vaccination service with the help of East Devon District Council

Four of Exmouth’s GP Practices are working together with East Devon District Council to provide a drive-through flu vaccination service at Maer Road car park, this autumn. This Exmouth seafront car park will be the location for the largest scale flu jab session the area has seen – providing a safe, socially distanced and convenient vaccination service for a large proportion of local people during the weekends of 10th-11th and 17th-18th October – with a further weekend planned in November.

Patients from Claremont Medical Practice, Imperial Surgery, Haldon House Surgery and Raleigh Surgery who are eligible for the free flu jab will be invited to a series of clinic dates to receive their free vaccination.

In order to address the Covid-19 requirements for social distancing, arrangements for flu clinics in all GP Practices are very different this year. To ensure that all patients, regardless of their underlying risk, can safely attend for the flu-jab, these four Practices took the decision to join forces in this exciting venture.

Dr Barry Coakley, GP Partner at Claremont Medical Practice and Clinical Director of the local Primary Care Network, said:

We are very excited to be able to deliver this drive-through option for all of our patients, offering a very high level of patient safety with maximal social distancing. The flu vaccination provides the best protection against an illness which infects many people each year and can lead to serious illness and death.

We know that, with the presence of COVID-19 in the community, for those over 65 and people in at-risk groups, such as diabetes or breathing and heart conditions, staying well this winter has never been more important.

This is the first time local Practices have worked together to provide such a large-scale vaccination service off-site and we are very grateful to East Devon District Council for their support in planning this project and also for providing the site free-of-charge. This large space allows for social distancing in a well-ventilated area. Our patients can remain safely in their vehicles to receive their flu jab while our Practice teams will have a large marquee in place to shelter them, whatever the weather.

This event is a real community effort. We would like to thank volunteers from Tri-Hards and Exmouth Running Belles, who have offered their time to be our friendly marshals, maintaining the traffic flow. Huge thanks also to Budleigh Hub, who have provided a mini-bus offering a lift those who do not have access to transport.

Patients from these four GP Practices, who have been identified as being eligible for the free flu jab, will have received an invitation letter directly from their surgery. This letter contains full details on how to book an appointment, how to access the site and a reminder to bring your “ticket” letter with you on the day.

Dr Coakley added:

If you are invited to attend for a flu jab and you book an appointment, it’s very important that you bring your invite letter with you on the day as it is your ticket for the vaccination. In order to maintain a good flow of patients, we will have to run a “No ticket, no vaccination” policy. Your cooperation will help us keep the queues moving quickly and effectively.

It is anticipated that there will be a big increase in the number of patients having their flu jabs this autumn. It is more important than ever that people with health conditions that make them most vulnerable are vaccinated. Not only are they most at-risk of developing complications from flu, but the same people are most likely to suffer harm from contracting COVID-19.

Dr Coakley went on to say,

This is yet another example of how the Exmouth community has come together in the face of Covid-19. This never-before-seen at-scale vaccination service demonstrates the collective will of local Practices to provide safe and effective services for all patients. This type of vaccination program could act as a blueprint for future Covid vaccinations, when the time comes.

Councillor Paul Arnott, Leader of East Devon District Council, said:

Our council is very pleased to be able to provide the space at Maer Road to support the health and wellbeing of our local population through this vital work.  I would personally urge as many people as possible to ensure they receive this vaccination. This applies both to people like me in the protected category and to the wider local population.