GP practices join forces for drive-thru flu jab service in Exmouth to offer vaccinations on ‘never seen before’ scale

GP practices in Exmouth have joined forces to provide an unprecedented flu jab drive-thru in the town this autumn.

A quartet of health hubs have teamed up with East Devon District Council (EDDC) to lay on the service in the seafront Maer Road car park.

And it will be the location for the biggest vaccination session the area has seen over the weekends of October 10 and 11 and 17 and 18.

A further event is planned for 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 the clinic dates.

All four of the GP practices decided to embark on the ‘exciting venture’ to provide a safe and socially distanced vaccination service that meets Covid-19 requirements.

Dr Barry Coakley, GP partner at Claremont Medical Practice and clinical director of the local Primary Care Network, said: “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.

He added: “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.

Dr Barry Coakley, GP partner at Claremont Medical Practice and clinical director of the local Primary Care Network in Exmouth. Picture: contributed

Dr Barry Coakley, GP partner at Claremont Medical Practice and clinical director of the local Primary Care Network in Exmouth. Picture: contributed

“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 minibus 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.”

EDDC leader Councillor Paul Arnott 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.”

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