Vials, volunteers and a thousand vaccinations: The incredible community effort to vaccinate its vulnerable

A local community in Gwynedd has shown what can be possible through the sheer power of collective effort after it vaccinated over a thousand of its vulnerable people in the space of a single weekend.

Local healthcare professionals, the police, the council, volunteers from a local football team, arts group and supermarket, and members of the public all joined forces - and braved the snow - to help vulnerable people in Nefyn receive their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine.

In total, 1,200 people were vaccinated over Saturday and Sunday by a team of six vaccinators.

Dr Eilir Hughes, a GP from Nefyn who played a key role in the colossal community effort, said he was immensely proud of the community and that it made him "quite emotional" just thinking about it.

"It was actually quite an emotional weekend" he said.

"It's been difficult hasn't it, it's been difficult for all of us. I'm actually getting quite emotional now thinking back because there was so much work for everyone to get this off the ground.

"People had said to us that it was impossible. They said to us it couldn't be done and we were so determined to show them we could and we blooming well did."

Primary care teams at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board had to receive Welsh Government approval before embarking on their weekend vaccination drive.

That approval was granted last Wednesday evening, which meant administrative staff had two days to book 1,200 appointments.

On Thursday morning, admin staff swung in to action, working through lists of people who were eligible to receive their first dose and booking time slots for them to be vaccinated.

The weekend vaccination drive was organised in such a way as to avoid long queues forming Credit: Dr Eilir Hughes

The vaccinations were all administered at the Ty Doctor GP practice on the Lleyn Peninsula over the course of Saturday and Sunday.

Volunteers were essential to the success of the community mission with the police assisting with setting up a traffic flow, the council helping grit and clear the roads of snow on Sunday and local residents acting as stewards.

Dr Hughes said: "It was an incredible community effort.

"As GPs we know our community and we know who to call up if we need some need help.

"We know the local police division so we got in touch with the sergeant there, him and his team were fantastic in creating a traffic system. It was an efficient system that nobody had to wait, there was no traffic and that the most frail were able to park up as near as possible to the centre.

"To support them we had friends of the practice coming in and they put in a shift despite the cold weather. They all helped out and were able to direct the traffic and the patients to get into the centre.

The numbers behind a community's vaccination mission

  • 195 - vials of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine were supplied to the vaccinators

  • 6 - Six vaccinators administered the vaccine to 1200 people

  • 150 - Gwynedd Council supplied 150 cones to help form a traffic system

  • 2 - Admin staff had two days to book over a thousand appointments

  • 0 - Not a single dose of the vaccine was wasted as everyone turned up for their appointment

"Gwynedd Council provided us with over 150 cones so that the traffic was clear for the drivers and they came in and gritted the area for us and helped us clear the snow.

"We had volunteers from the local football club, a local arts centre and the local supermarket, the Spar in Nefyn.

"It was a sight to behold. Everyone pulled their sleeves up and just cracked on because everyone saw the value in what we were trying to achieve here."

Police officers assisted with setting up a traffic system to enable frail patients to park closer to the vaccination centre Credit: Dr Eilir Hughes

For those being vaccinated, the weekend's efforts brought a tangible sense of relief.

"They've been terrified and they've been scared" Dr Hughes said.

"You could see how stressed they had been but also the hope and the joy that they were now getting the vaccine, that they were prioritised to be getting it."

The community's effort attracted hundreds of comments on social media congratulating them on their efforts.

One Twitter user commented: "Super stars - all of your team! Every day and every dose in every arm is a step closer to better times."

"Thank you for everything you and your wonderful team has done for people living in your community" another user wrote.

They continued: "This is the strength of the healthcare services. I love to see the amazing work being done all over my timeline.

Dr Hughes said he hoped the achievements made over the weekend would show what could be possible and that "the floodgates could open" on Wales' vaccination rollout.

He said: "If we could share what we achieved here, we could then hopefully allow the floodgates to open to other areas in Wales to do the same.

"I know my colleagues in primary care are very keen to get the vaccine out."