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Cathedrals to open their doors as Covid-19 vaccination centres

by Tola Mbakwe

Lichfield and Blackburn cathedrals are among Anglican cathedrals which have offered their buildings up to local health providers to help with the mass planned Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Both Lichfield and Blackburn are currently in talks to arrange facilities and appropriate dates and times. 

Dean of Lichfield, the Very Rev Adrian Dorber said: “We pray every day for our nation and community especially for the healing of the sick and protecting the vulnerable. It’s only right we offer our cathedrals as the practical means for those prayers to be answered,”  

The news of a possible jab from pharmaceutical company Pfizer came as England headed towards the end of its first week in a second national lockdown.

The medical director of NHS England believes the body will be up to the "challenge" of distributing a coronavirus vaccine.

Meanwhile, The Local Government Association has said authorities could offer the jab at sports halls, libraries and car parks to ensure as many people are vaccinated as quickly as possible.

Doctors surgeries are initially expected to provide around one million doses of the vaccine each week when it's ready.

Rev Dorber said: “The roll out of this new vaccine to immunise us against Covid-19 infection is the best news of the year.  We want to offer the Cathedral nave here at Lichfield as a big space that can safely and securely house local vaccination programmes and enable speedy delivery to those most at risk”.  

Guildford Cathedral was turned into a drive-through clinic last month to immunise 800 local people against this year’s influenza and is among other cathedrals that have offered their buildings as safe spaces for vaccination programmes.

Blackburn with Darwen local authority area has seen the second highest coronavirus infection figures in the country after Oldham and has been in local lockdown since July.

Blackburn Cathedral has worked hard to play its part in supporting those more vulnerable in the community throughout the pandemic. It has offered services to the local authorities since March and is currently in talks with the local health care provider and could become a vaccination centre as soon as December.

Dean of Blackburn, the Very Rev Peter Howell Jones said: “At the heart of the Christian faith is love and hospitality, and a God that cares for all people.

“It is only right we offer our building as a safe and accessible space for this exciting inoculation plan and be prepared to serve the nation in these times of deep uncertainty and fear."

If the plan for Blackburn Cathedral goes ahead, the local health care provider, Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria will turn the Undercroft and Crypt area of the city centre landmark into a vaccination centre for an estimated 12- 14 month period from December.

This will enable it to offer vaccinations 12 hours a day, seven days a week to up to 1,700 people per week.

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