UCLH and the Francis Crick Institute have formed a partnership to deliver a new large-scale COVID-19 vaccination centre at the institute. People over the age of 80, at-risk individuals in priority groups and frontline healthcare staff will be first to be vaccinated at the centre as part of the NHS vaccination programme.
The centre will have capacity to vaccinate up to 1000 people a day, seven days a week. It will be overseen by UCLH and will be staffed by Crick clinician scientists, as well as additional volunteers from the Crick and its partners who have all received NHS training in safely administering vaccines.
More than 300 researchers and other staff have volunteered their time to help with the vaccination programme, including a number of scientists who are medically trained, and the centre has been set up inside the Francis Crick Institute within a matter of weeks.
UCLH Director of Strategy Laura Churchward said: “We are delighted that the large scale vaccine centre at the Crick is opening and I would like to thank everyone involved in setting it up. I would also like to encourage everyone who is invited to have a vaccine to take it up. Being vaccinated is the best protection against coronavirus.”
Paul Nurse, Director of the Crick, said: “Getting the UK population vaccinated is a major task and it is part of the Crick’s civic duty to do all it can to help. These are the first steps towards allowing the UK to become normal again – getting the economy going, and crucially, protecting the vulnerable. I am grateful to everyone at the institute who is helping to make this possible.”
As the national vaccination programme evolves and expands, so will the Crick centre, offering vaccinations for residents in the local community in Camden and Islington according to Government prioritisation.
Charles Swanton, Senior Group Leader at the Crick, Consultant at UCLH and Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician said: “The success of different vaccine trials represents an amazing feat of science. To have been presented with a virus, never seen before in humans, and within a year, be starting to vaccinate the most vulnerable, is a huge achievement. As scientists, we want to use our skills to continue this progress and help bring an end to this pandemic.”
The vaccine centre forms another pillar of the Crick’s response to the pandemic. Since April, Crick staff have been running COVID testing for local healthcare staff, processing thousands of samples a week and helping protect 10 hospitals, many community and ambulance services, and 150 care homes.
In the lab, Crick scientists have been exploring many different aspects of the virus and the disease it causes, including the detailed mechanism of human infection via the surface spike protein, how the body’s immune system responds to severe infection, how patients with cancer are affected, and the complexities of immunity to the virus.
Sam Barrell, the Crick’s Chief Operating Officer said: “It’s inspiring to see the way the Crick and its staff have responded to the challenges of this pandemic. We’re extremely proud to be able to play our part in helping the UK free itself from this disease and the restrictions we have all been living with since the pandemic began.”
People will be contacted by the NHS when it’s their turn to be vaccinated so shouldn’t seek a vaccine before then, as the centre will not be operating on a “walk in” or “on request” basis. Patients will be encouraged to use public transport to come to their appointment and we do not anticipate any disruption to those who live or work near the site.