'A symbol of an extraordinary collective effort': Elland Road Covid-19 vaccination centre closes

The mass vaccination centre at Elland Road has now closed after playing a key role in the city’s Covid-19 vaccination programme - jabbing up to 3,000 people a day at its peak.

By Joanna Wardill
Tuesday, 29th March 2022, 4:30 pm

The large-scale centre at the Leeds United ground has been decommissioned by NHS bosses after vaccinating a total of 468,000 people since it was first set up as a community vaccination centre February 2021.

Its initial base was at the Centenary Pavilion but in July 2021 it moved to a purpose-built temporary structure on the park and ride site on Bobby Collins Way.

The current lease on the building expires on April 18 but the site has now closed for the set-up to be dismantled ready to be handed back to the park and ride.

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Long queues at the Leeds COVID Vaccination Centre in December 2021. Picture: James Hardisty

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It comes as demand now does not support the continued running of such a large-scale centre and NHS chiefs are now moving towards a new “roving” vaccination service in Leeds.

Building on the success of the outreach vaccination clinics in local communities, the service will provide a wide range of clinics and temporary ‘pop-ups’ across the city.

A report to this week’s board meeting of the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust said the current demand for vaccinations is around 2,000 per day across the primary care network.

Members of the Leeds Rhinos staff at the Leeds Vaccination Centre at Elland Road in July 2021, when they had their vaccines. From left: Matt Prior, Elle Frain Leeds Rhinos women's rugby player, , Helen Wilkinson Clinical Supervisor at Leeds Vaccine Centre, Brie Grierson Leeds Rhinos netball player and James Donaldson.

Latest figures show in Leeds, 570,283 people are fully-vaccinated - equating to 66.3 per cent of those eligible.

A further 36,045 have received one dose of the vaccine.

Second visits to all Leeds schools started during February to offer first and second doses to eligible students.

The report says there is a “reported low level of uptake” of the offer to vaccinate clinically vulnerable five to 11-year-olds.

NHS bosses said replacing the large-scale centre at Elland Road with a more flexible approach will allow the service to respond to the needs of different patient cohorts.

These include all five to 11-year-olds, who will be offered jabs from next month.

Sam Prince, senior responsible officer for the Leeds vaccination programme, said: “Vaccinations are still vitally important to ensure we keep Covid at bay.

“We have been looking at how we can best meet the needs of people who have not yet been vaccinated, as well as delivering the latest recommendations regarding vaccinations for all five to 11-year-olds and ‘Spring boosters’ for people at greatest risk from Covid-19.

“Feedback from patients and community organisations also tells us that this roving approach will help us to meet the different needs of all our different communities as effectively as possible and ensure that vaccinations continue to be easy and convenient to access for people across the city.”

Staff who worked at the Elland Road centre will become part of the new roving service offering vaccinations across the city.

This will be in addition to the services already offered by local GPs and community pharmacies.

Ms Prince also paid tribute to the hard work of all those involved in the Elland Road centre and said they had played a vital role in protecting people:

“The Elland Road centre has been a real #TeamLeeds effort and played a huge part in getting large numbers of people across the city vaccinated as quickly as possible.

“Thanks to the efforts of the NHS, the council, the third sector and volunteers who have been involved from day one, hundreds of thousands of people in Leeds have been protected against COVID-19, reducing their risk of being admitted to hospital or sadly dying.

“So thank you to each and every person who has been involved.”

Coun James Lewis, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Throughout the pandemic, the Elland Road vaccination centre has been a symbol of an extraordinary collective effort to protect our city and its communities from COVID.

“Leeds will forever be indebted to the remarkable staff and volunteers there who have selflessly and tirelessly done so much to keep hundreds of thousands of us safe and vaccinated.

“As the vaccine programme evolves, this is a fitting moment to reflect on everything we have accomplished together and to offer our sincere and heartfelt thanks to all those whose determination and compassion have helped us reach this point and who will continue to do so in the future.”

Anyone needing a vaccination can book an appointment at www.nhs.uk/covidvaccine or by calling 119. Details of local walk-in clinics are also available at www.leedsccg.nhs.uk/health/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine/walk-in-clinics/

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