Around 14,000 people could receive their first Covid jab at the mass immunisation centre in Aberdeen by the end of next week.
NHS Grampian is on course to open the facility at the P&J Live arena on Monday, initially operating at around a fifth of its overall capacity.
Despite that, about 2,000 people could still be vaccinated daily at the seven days a week so-called ‘super centre’.
The slower start will enable staff to adapt to their vital work.
P&J Live centre to play key role
The mass immunisation centre in P&J Live, at Teca in Bucksburn, will be responsible for the majority of jabs for adults in the Granite City and is anticipated to play a key role in having 50,000 people vaccinated every week in the north-east during February.
Final preparations continued in the enormous hall at P&J Live, lined with 12 rows of wipe-clean white booths which will be used to administer the injections by appointment-only.
Soldiers from the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards continued to unload supplies while the press and film crews were shown around.
‘We could be looking at 10,000 patients a day’
Clare Houston, managing the P&J Live project for NHS Grampian, said: “Recruiters are working night and day to get vaccinators approved and appointed, as well as health care support workers and administration staff.
“That is all happening behind the scenes just now.
“Once we have those people in place and a vaccine supply we will be working 100 pods, over a 12-hour basis. We could be looking at 10,000 patients a day.
“If we can get the vaccine supply, we don’t see why the centre won’t be working at full capacity.
“It is all down to vaccine supply for us.
“We have the logistics and infrastructure in place, we know we have the staff coming through. When we have the vaccine we are ready to deliver.”
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, who announced the mass immunisation centre at the state-of-the-art events complex around a fortnight ago, previously stated around 20,000 jabs a week could be expected to be administered at it.
With no vaccine supply issues, Ms Houston estimates staff might actually be able to offer more than three times that figure.
Appointment letters should be arriving with all over-75s in Grampian in the coming days and bosses were keen to emphasise people should only attend when invited to.
No shortage of people wanting to help
City officials last week published news of the effort to find hundreds of people to give the injections.
Ms Houston told The P&J: “There is a lot of work going on in the background to try and get as many people as possible and I don’t think there is any shortage of people wanting to do it.”
Teca took 25 people off furlough to help set up the immunisation centre over the last week.
Head of event management Patrick Lynn said: “We have tried to share the work among our staff and contractors.
“Who would have thought when we had Lewis Capaldi playing that we wouldn’t be back for another year?
“It is great to be back and doing something so vital to the community, with the opportunity to support the NHS, which we are very proud of. It is a privilege.”
Immunisation centres set up across Moray and the north-east
While P&J Live will serve the majority of Aberdeen’s adult population, as well as a small proportion of those in Aberdeenshire, immunisation centres have been set up across the north-east.
In Moray, a mass vaccination facility in the former Topps Tiles shop in Edgar Road, Elginm began operations yesterday.
Other centres are being set up in Forres, Dufftown, Buckie and Keith; while in Aberdeenshire they will be run in Macduff, Fraserburgh, Peterhead, Ellon, Inverurie, Banchory and Stonehaven.
Additional vaccination venues in Huntly and Alford will operate on a week about basis, and there will possibly be a mobile vaccination unit taken out to the most rural north-east communities.
Health bosses anticipate all those in priority groups will have been offered jabs by March 22.
Care home residents and the over-80s were the first to be vaccinated in their communities but now the over-50s, clinically vulnerable and at-risk adults of all ages will soon be offered the jab.
The remainder of the over-16 population with then be treated as a third wave of patients.