The Church of England has said it is admirable that many churches want to be vaccination centres but says churches need to think about the practical implications, such as potentially leaving the church unable to hold services for up to a year.
With the Pfizer and BioNtech vaccine being rolled out already and the prospect of two more vaccines on the way, venues across the country will need to be temporarily converted into vaccination centres in order to inoculate the population.
The Royal College of Nursing has said: "Buildings with the capacity for large scale vaccination options such as sports and leisure centres, community centres and religious venues may offer the potential to facilitate a mass throughout of people."
Vaccination centres are also decided by local NHS trusts, with local authorities, GPs and pharmacies.
As churches may consider offering their buildings up, the Church of England has published guidance about what they need to consider before offering.
The House of Bishops Covid Recovery group wrote: "It is admirable that so many churches and cathedrals have suggested that they may be able to provide space for vaccination centres as part of the national response to Covid-19. Where this is possible to do it will be a great act of service and witness.
"Most of the vaccination hubs being set up are expecting to process upwards of 1000 people a day - they need large spaces that are not needed for any other purposes, and that can be kept for the purposes of vaccinations for up to a year. If you do not have a dedicated space that can be given over to this purpose it is likely to be difficult for you to offer your church. By and large the issues of whether cathedrals, churches, church halls and similar buildings might be suitable venues is one of access, accessibility, and (for church and cathedral buildings) practicality alongside the use of the building for worship."
Husband and wife, Vic and Penny Griffiths get vaccinated. Photo by PA Victoria Jones
They write that church leaders need to think about whether they will ever need the space they are offering up for the duration of the vaccination centre, whether there are toilets and easy access to water and electricity.
Pastors are also urged to consider parking for the staff running the centre, wheelchair access, room for delivery vans and enough space for people to wait safely.
"Most vaccination centres need to set up a number of individual cubicles for the administration of vaccines, plus secure areas for storage of records, computers, medical waste etc. Assuming that such interventions are temporary and do not have an impact on historic fabric, does the layout of your building allow for such a layout?" they ask.
Photo by Andy Stenning, Daily Mirror
Church of England churches will need to get a formal agreement between the PCC and whoever runs the centre. A licence or hiring agreement should be agreed that includes information on fees and payment, insurance and liability arrangements, as well as agreement over access to and use of the space.
"If your church is felt suitable and you have been asked to progress setting up a centre by the NHS then the first port of call should be your Diocesan Advisory Committee or Archdeacon, who can help to advise you."