Inside Harlow’s vaccination centre

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HARLOW Leisurezone is operating as a West Essex vaccination centre. Thousands of people have attended to receive their first and second Covid jab.

The centre opened back in January, and they are still working hard, vaccinating around 500 people every day. Over half of Harlow’s population has been vaccinated, as well as the countless others who come from other parts of Essex and Hertfordshire.

Harlow College student, Lucia Banks, 19, volunteers at the vaccination centre in her free time.

She volunteered because she had a lot of additional free time in lockdown, and wanted to help people, bringing the end of the pandemic closer with every vaccine and aftercare she administered.

Lucia, like many young people, was fed up with the hold lockdown had on everyone’s lives: “Instead of sitting around moaning about it, I decided to actually do something about it.

“I signed up to be a volunteer vaccinator on the St John Ambulance website and I went to London for training;it was great, being able to meet so many lovely, kind individuals who wanted to help as much as you do.”

The training included  repeatedly vaccinating rubber arms, followed by an assessment which she passed with flying colours: “At the Harlow vaccination centre, I’ve been mainly helping out with patient aftercare and making sure everyone’s feeling okay- I love it because it’s great chatting to people and reassuring them.”

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Lucia pictured in her St. John Ambulance uniform at the vaccination centre

As the months go on, more and more people become eligible for their Covid jab.

Tracey Evans, 56, works for the NHS and was able to get her vaccination while it was still limited to those over the age of 70.

Tracey works for an independent opticians in Waltham Abbey. They have a great deal of NHS patients and have remained open throughout the pandemic, albeit only providing emergency appointments in the first lockdown.

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Tracey in her PPE at work, ready to take a customer’s temperature

“It was very well organised, very well timed. Everyone was given an appointment, there was free parking which made it easier for people, anyone with a disability was allowed to park right outside. We were then welcomed by people who told us exactly what way to go and where to go. As I was getting mine as an NHS worker, there was a different queue.”

Despite her fear of needles, Tracey thought her overall experience at the Leisurezone was a good one. She described everyone as very helpful and well organised.

“After a little chat, they administered the vaccine, taking into account how squeamish people are; they were very nice,” she said. “The staff were very kind: very aware of social distancing, access to hand gel, showing people to the toilets etc.”

Tracey encourages all those eligible to receive their coronavirus vaccination to go ahead and book, if they haven’t so already. The process is quick and easy, and of course, worth it.

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Tracey and her husband Steven have both received their Covid vaccinations. Steven is vulnerable due to his medical conditions, and received his jab a few weeks after Tracey.

Currently those who are eligible include:

  • people aged 40 and over
  • people who will turn 40 before 1 July 2021
  • people at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
  • people who live or work in care homes
  • health and social care workers
  • people with a condition that puts them at higher risk (clinically vulnerable)
  • people with a learning disability
  • people who are a main carer for someone at high risk from coronavirus

Book your jab here:


Feature photo: Harlow LeisureZone, vaccination centre. (YourHarlow)

Photos supplied by Lucia Banks and Steven Evans

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