Covid-19: Lichfield Cathedral turned into vaccination centre

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image captionLocal health bosses said patients needed to be invited for a vaccination and urged people not to just turn up

Hundreds of people have queued at Lichfield Cathedral to get their coronavirus vaccination.

The place of worship, in Staffordshire, has been turned into a centre to administer the jabs.

Field hospital style facilities along with waiting areas have been set up inside the cathedral, including along its central aisle.

The Dean of Lichfield said people working there had been "buzzing" to help.

The queue of mostly over-80s snaked through the cathedral and its grounds as they waited to get their vaccination on Friday.

Writing on Twitter, local MP Michael Fabricant drew parallels between pilgrimages in the Middle Ages and Friday's scenes.

media captionCovid-19: Lichfield Cathedral was a pilgrimage for the sick during the Middle Ages. Now it's become a vaccination hub
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image captionThe central aisle of the historic building has been turned into a vaccination centre

Although places of worship have been allowed to stay open during the latest lockdown, the cathedral has chosen to close, holding services online.

The dean said he offered use of the cathedral to the Lichfield Primary Care Network after news of Covid vaccines emerged.

The Very Rev Adrian Dorber told the Press Association setting it up had only taken a couple of days.

"We've got some really well-drilled volunteers and a really capable staff, who have just kind of gone into 'battle action' and done it," he said.

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image captionThe queue for the vaccinations ran out of the cathedral and through its grounds

In all, the government hopes 15 million people - the over-70s, healthcare workers and those required to shield - can be vaccinated by mid-February.

GPs, community hubs, pharmacies, mass vaccination centres and even supermarkets have taken up the fight, particularly since the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been introduced.

Deirdre Smouna, from the local primary care network, said staff had quickly realised how ideal a location the cathedral was.

"To begin with, it is certainly not hard to find," she said.

"But apart from being so symbolic of the area, it has a large amount of parking nearby, the main entrance is flat, and the nave is long enough to provide socially distanced queuing."

Health bosses said patients had been contacted directly by their GP practice and offered appointments, adding people should not call their GP to ask for a vaccination or just turn up.

image copyrightReuters
image captionHealth bosses said the interior of the cathedral had plenty of space for socially distanced queuing
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image captionThe government hopes everyone in its priority group can get their first dose of the vaccine by mid-February
image copyrightPA Media
image captionDaily worship at the cathedral has been taking place online due to the pandemic
image copyrightReuters
image captionThe cathedral has been an ideal location, according to medical staff

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