West Lothian's vaccine volunteers ready for Autumn

West Lothian’s army of coronavirus vaccine volunteers are gearing up for an Autumn campaign.

By Stuart Sommerville, LDR
Monday, 23rd August 2021, 9:21 am
A vaccination centre has been run at Pyramids Business Park in Bathgate.
A vaccination centre has been run at Pyramids Business Park in Bathgate.

The local Voluntary Sector Gateway, the Third Sector organising group in the county, managed to recruit more than 900 people to help in the drive to get vaccinations done at the Pyramids Business Park in Bathgate.

Now, said Alan McCloskey, chief executive of the VSG, they are preparing for a new Autumn assault on Covid as vaccines are offered to those under 40. Mr McCloskey told a meeting of West Lothian Council’s Voluntary Organisations Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel (PDSP) there had been an “amazing response” since February from the people of West Lothian to the appeal for volunteers to help at the mass vaccination site at the Pyramids business park in Bathgate.

The numbers were such that VSG was able to fill shift slots easily at the site which was offering jabs from 8am to 8pm seven days a week. Many volunteered for multiple shifts.

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Alan McCloskey, Chief Executive of the Voluntary Sector Gateway.

There has been a drop in the numbers attending the centre for jabs in the last four or five weeks. After consultation with NHS Lothian, and following feedback from volunteers, VSG paused recruitment during the summer.

Mr McCloskey added: “NHS Lothian have advised that they expect the site will be used to offer vaccine booster shots and flu jabs around Autumn-time. We have communicated that to the volunteers who have been working with us and I’m pleased to report that many have indicated that they would still wish to volunteer their service even allowing that some have gone back to work, or circumstances have changed.

“I think that just shows the value of people coming forward and the fact they have actually enjoyed their volunteering experience, and I think that’s one of the key things for me as part of the success of that programme.”

The VSG team has also been working with West Lothian Council and Public Health Scotland across the county with twice weekly meetings to plan and promote drop-ins to encourage vaccines for 18 to 29 year olds and 30 to 39 year olds, and others who face barriers or issues around vaccination.

“We’ll be playing our part in supporting that as we go into the Autumn,” said Mr McCloskey.