As Covid vaccines are rolled out across the UK, clinics are being created in surprising locations. One such clinic has been set up in the Harborne meetinghouse of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The building in Birmingham is one of over 1,000 clinics in the UK offering vaccinations to protect against the COVID-19 virus.
In December, the National Health Service approached Church members about using the building for vaccines. The vaccine centre first opened on 11 December, with the NHS scheduling appointments on Fridays and Saturdays. After a break over Christmas, they resumed immunisations with the goal of 1,000 each week. The NHS plan to increase that number over the next three to six months as more vaccine becomes available.
Dr Phil Saunders, whose group operates the neighbouring family doctor practice, identified the Harborne congregation’s meetinghouse to be among the first church buildings in the UK offering its premises for use as a community vaccination centre. He said their doctor’s surgery has “now established a successful, safe and effective vaccination site. We could not have done this without the fantastic support from the Church, both in providing the building and also in accommodating our needs for this vital work.”
According to local leader President Paul Wilkinson, who supervises multiple congregations in the Birmingham area, Church members have a long-standing relationship with the GP surgery, which is next door to their building. The organisations frequently share car parks for overflow parking.
Appointments scheduled by the NHS ensure minimal wait times for the jab itself, followed by a 15-minute observation. This enables them to immunise hundreds of people a day. According to the NHS, a number of centenarians have been vaccinated at the clinic.
As vaccine becomes more available, President Wilkinson expects clinic days to increase in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. He added, “We are happy to be able to support the NHS in their efforts to fight the battle against Covid.”
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