Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, visited the NHS vaccination centre based at UCL’s Bidborough House, and offered his thanks to UCL, UCLH and the army of volunteers, who are playing a vital role in ensuring the UK is vaccinated against COVID-19.
At the start of the tour (Thursday 23 September 2021), the Health Secretary was welcomed by UCL President & Provost Dr Michael Spence, along with UCLH Chief Executive David Probert and UCLH Chair Dame Julia Neuberger.
He was then briefed on the vaccination programme before touring the centre with Deborah Scott, clinical nurse specialist and vaccination lead at UCLH.
He spoke to some of the volunteers and staff who do the vital work of vaccinating up to 1,000 people a day and thanked them for their hard work and dedication in the effort to get as many people vaccinated as possible.
The Secretary of State’s visit took place in the same week that the centre began giving frontline medical healthcare workers their COVID-19 booster jabs. At the same time, the centre is also busy with Londoners getting their first and second jabs, and UCL and UCLH are working to deliver vaccinations to UCL’s students, starting with dedicated sessions for international students.
UCL has also been promoting the vaccine centre and bookings via proactive student communications on the Eventbrite platform and is running the telephone Keep in Touch campaign calling overseas students and focusing on those in quarantine. We are asking how they are, helping them to access health care and asking if they would like to book a vaccination appointment at the Bidborough House vaccination centre.
Commenting on the visit, UCL President & Provost Dr Michael Spence, said: “It was wonderful the Health Secretary chose to visit the NHS vaccination centre based at UCL and I was delighted to welcome him.
“Working with our partners at UCLH, we are incredibly proud to host this important community facility, which is helping ensure many thousands of local residents and students can get a vaccination at their convenience.
“The success of the vaccination rollout, along with regular Covid-19 testing, will help us all get back to life as we know and love it; as students return to campus we are proactively communicating the importance of getting a jab and the ability the book an appointment at Bidborough House.”
Located a few minutes’ walk from King’s Cross/St Pancras and Euston stations, and close to the British Library, the centre at Bidborough House opened on 26 August 2021, is run in partnership with UCLH.
During the visit the Health Secretary spoke with Xane Safdar, a UCL third-year medical student and NHS volunteer, as he was given his booster jab.
“During the summer I have been working as a vaccinator in the North Central London NHS region. It’s been a great privilege to be working on the frontline in such as important role, helping protect people from COVID-19,” Xane, who is President of the medics’ football club, said.
“As a healthcare worker I was entitled to a booster jab and working at UCL’s Bidborough House vaccine centre meant it was convenient to get a booking. But I never expected I’d get my boost in front of the Health Secretary; he asked me about my studies and thanked me for all the work I have been doing.”
After observing the vaccination process from beginning to end and speaking to some of those having their vaccination, Mr Javid addressed centre staff and volunteers.
He said: “The whole country should be proud of the incredible work taking place on the vaccine rollout. I’d like to give special thanks to the amazing staff and volunteers at the Bidborough House vaccination centre and across the nation.
“The work you’re doing – vaccinating the public and health and social care staff – is helping build a wall of defence against the virus, allowing us to return to a more normal life. Getting the vaccine has never been easier, and I urge anyone who hasn’t yet come forward to play their part by getting the jab to protect themselves, their families and their communities.”
Mr Probert said: “We’re delighted to welcome the health secretary to our vaccination centre and to give him the chance to see up close how hard and diligently the staff and volunteers are working to make sure people get their vaccine quickly, safely and effectively. The COVID-19 jab is a vital weapon in the effort to get the country back to normal and helping to keep people safe, so I’m really pleased we could host the secretary of state today and that he got to meet and speak with some of those on the front line of the vaccine service.”