Local residents are being invited to receive a COVID-19 vaccine from a health team working at The Salvation Army’s Corps (church) building in the town of Lower Earley, near the city of Reading in central southern England. The roll-out of the vaccine started in the area on January 6, 2021, with people receiving their first vaccinations the same evening.
The Salvation Army’s corps officers (church leaders), Lieutenant Jacqueline Coates and her husband Territorial Envoy Roger Coates, offered the use of the center because of their work with vulnerable people in the community. The Salvation Army building – which is adjacent to a National Health Service general practice surgery/primary care center – is suitable for the vaccination program because the layout allows plenty of space for social distancing and for a one-way system to be implemented, helping to keep patients safe.
The United Kingdom is currently subject to a third nationwide ‘lockdown’, with recorded cases of COVID-19 exceeding those in the first wave of the virus in the first half of 2020. However, three different vaccines have now been approved for use by the country’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
Envoy Roger Coates says: ‘When we heard the UK Government announcement about the roll-out of the vaccination … we were moved to ask our neighbouring practice if they needed assistance. Chalfont Surgery had been praying for a suitable space for running the operation safely and we were more than happy to help. We help vulnerable people all year round, some of whom will be among the first groups to be offered the vaccinations. It’s only right that we offer our building, which we have been blessed with, to help in the fight against this deadly disease that has caused so much loss and devastation in our communities this past year.’
The Salvation Army’s premises will be used as a vaccination clinic for the foreseeable future, with its regular worship services having moved online last year. The church leaders will also offer pastoral support to the medical staff, volunteers and members of the public who may wish to talk about their emotional or spiritual well-being.
The envoy adds: ‘This is very much a partnership between The Salvation Army, the GP practice and the local council who are providing volunteers for the operation.’
Possibilities of using Salvation Army premises for similar initiatives in other parts of the UK are presently also being explored.
From a news release by United Kingdom Territory with the Republic of Ireland