'It is absolutely tremendous' - Thousands volunteer at Bathgate's Covid-19 mass vaccination centre

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Thousands of people have volunteered to help at a mass Covid-19 vaccination site in Bathgate.

Alan McCloskey, chief executive officer of West Lothian Voluntary Sector Gateway, said: ”Within 24 hours we were able to fill shift rotas right through until the end of May.

“The response is a credit to the people of West Lothian.”

Mr McCloskey described the response in a meeting of the Voluntary Organisations Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel.

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The new Covid-19 vaccination centre opens at Pyramids, Bathgate. Pic: Lisa FergusonThe new Covid-19 vaccination centre opens at Pyramids, Bathgate. Pic: Lisa Ferguson
The new Covid-19 vaccination centre opens at Pyramids, Bathgate. Pic: Lisa Ferguson

His report said the VSGWL is coordinating volunteer support to the mass vaccination site at the Pyramids, Bathgate, with the site expected to operate seven days a week - 8am to 6:30pm - from February 15 to August.

The report said: “To support the on-site health professionals and event management teams, we put out a call for volunteers to undertake meet and greet roles and guiding people to the correct vaccination areas and sign up for a range of shifts.

“There has been an astonishing response from individuals offering to help. Within hours of us creating a sign-up rota database, all three shifts per day, seven days a week through to the end of May have already been allocated. Between two and four volunteers per shift have signed up.”

HcL (Handicabs) is offering free transport to those with mobility issues to mass vaccination sites across the Lothians.

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Mr McCloskey said the VSG is now drawing up reserve lists and was working in partnership with the local NHS and British Red Cross.

Mr McCloskey said the age range of volunteers was between 18 and 80.

He said: “The overwhelming feedback is that they want to help others. That is coming through loud and clear. Some people may have more time on their hands because of furlough, but the message is they just want to help others.”

Councillor Moira Shemilt said it was good news that the spirit of volunteering hadn’t run out of puff given the length of the pandemic.

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Chairing the meeting, councillor Kirsteen Sullivan passed on the thanks of one of her constituents who had recently been vaccinated and highlighted how daunting getting vaccinated might be for many who had not been out of the house for months.

She added: “Can I just add my praise to the people who have come forward to support the vaccination programme. It is absolutely tremendous.”

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