A DRIVE-through clinic was set up to deliver this year's flu vaccine to 1,800 people on Portland, as organisers looked to find a safe way of administering the winter jab during the coronavirus pandemic.

The team at Royal Manor Healthcare on Portland had a challenge on their hands this year, with the task of planning how to deliver the annual flu vaccination programme within the constraints of the global Covid-19 crisis and the need to socially distance.

Jennifer Chaloner, of the Royal Manor team, said they decided fairly early on that the most suitable and safest option would be to set up a drive-through clinic. The first obstacle they faced was finding a suitable venue, so the practice contacted HeliOperations based in Portland's Osprey Quay, who were happy to offer their premises and land to support the venture.

Ms Chaloner said: "The practice are immensely grateful to them as they assisted in the logistical planning, gave the practice full access to their facilities and even provided lunch for all the staff. With the venue sorted the flu team needed to move full steam ahead with the rest of the planning to safely deliver the mass vaccination programme."

Those who had booked to have their flu jab made their way to the HeliOperations car park and followed signs to snake around and queue for their turn. The vaccines were administered by staff wearing personal protective equipment while the patients remained in their cars.

Ms Chaloner added: "It is by far the hardest flu programme we have ever had to plan for, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Highways Agency, which provided cones to mark out the route and keep staff safe; Island Community Action, which provided transport to those without access to a car; Portland Rotary club, which provided marshals to keep the traffic flowing; Portland Running Club, which provided marshals and equipment, and Dorset Shellfish, which provided high visibility jackets for all the staff.

"The practice is delighted to say the day was a massive success and they vaccinated approximately 1,800 people from the safety of their cars. Royal Manor Healthcare pulled together on the day and demonstrated what an amazing team they are."

Mark Deaney, chief operating officer, at HeliOperations, added: "HeliOperations were delighted to support the drive-through flu jab at its Heliport on Portland. It was really good to see that so many people were able to receive the jab in a single day. The NHS team were great to work with and we will be delighted to provide our facility again for future events."