Opinion

How could pubs switch from dispensing beer to dispensing vaccines?

By Mike Williams, operations director, Food Alert

- Last updated on GMT

Practical challenges: 'We are working with a number of these venues, including Brewdog who led the march, to advise on the practicalities of switching a pub to a vaccination centre'
Practical challenges: 'We are working with a number of these venues, including Brewdog who led the march, to advise on the practicalities of switching a pub to a vaccination centre'

Related tags: Health and safety, Legislation, Coronavirus, Brewdog, Pubco + head office

As we embark on yet another national lockdown the one glimmer of hope lies in the knowledge that we now have vaccines to fight against Covid-19.

Once again, hospitality has stepped up to show its sense of community, responsibility and innovation even in its darkest hour, with pubs, bars and restaurants offering their premises as hubs for delivering vaccinations.

We are working with a number of these venues, including BrewDog who led the march, to advise on the practicalities of switching a pub to a vaccination centre.  

However, as one would expect, there are several logistical and practical challenges to overcome.  

People flow and access

Keeping contact between the public and staff to a minimum is paramount.  

Therefore, having a simple, single direction of flow is best practice.  You will also need to consider entry and check-in areas, pre- and post-vaccination waiting rooms and an area for vaccination.  

You must also be able to guarantee clear access for the emergency services.

Social distancing and personal protective equipment (PPE)

We are all aware of the hands, face, space messaging and maintaining the 2m gap between individuals in the waiting areas is essential.  

This will not only determine how many people can gain access at any given time, but you will need security to manage the process effectively.

PPE, such as face coverings and sanitising hand gel, will need to be in ready supply at all times. 

Contamination and cleaning

As we know Covid-19 lives on surfaces, so it is vital that chairs within waiting areas are cleaned between each use, along with hand contact surfaces in each area. 

Fabric covered seats and benches will not be suitable for use.

Cleaning chemicals must be effective against Covid-19 and staff will need to be trained in their use and dosage.

Storage

The Oxford Astra Zeneca vaccine only requires a standard refrigerator for storage and is easier to dispense and store than the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, so is the most suitable for hospitality venues to offer. 

Fridges will need to be easily accessible and located directly within or next to the area where the doses will be prepared.  

The kitchen is the obvious location for this and there must be suitable and sufficient space to allow for the doses to be prepared in a safe, accurate and hygienic manner.

Further consideration must be given to the storage of syringes and needles and other related materials. These areas must observe the highest hygiene standards and be accessible. 

Secure, reliable Wi-Fi

Strong and reliable Wi-Fi is paramount in order to allow for medical records to be accessible.  

GDPR requirements come into play here and publicly accessible Wi-Fi will not cut it.  

If you are looking to provide your premises for vaccination purposes, this may in fact be a starting consideration for you.

Staff and training

Your teams, should they want to, can play a pivotal role in assisting with the delivery of vaccinations in a support role capacity. 

They can be trained to check individuals in to the premises and make sure that social distancing and Covid protocols are adhered to at all times. 

Public Health England (PHE) and the NHS already have many e-learning modules in place for the vaccination scheme and it would be likely that staff would be required to complete these courses before they can commence any duties. 

Paperwork

Expect lots of this. You will need to have the following as a minimum – and no doubt yards of other red tape – as prepared carefully by PHE:

  • Covid protocols and arrangements documented
  • Covid specific risk assessments
  • Training records for your team
  • Control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH) data sheets and instructions for use of each chemical
  • Cleaning schedules
  • Staff health questionnaires

Will it happen?

Clearly at this point, while the Government is firing off soundbites about the vaccination scheme, there are many barriers and much red tape in the way at present to allow for premises other than hospitals and GP surgeries to administer vaccinations. 

However, as the general public and industry as a whole are desperate to get back to normal life, it is expected that much of the red tape will be removed and we can expect to see lines of people waiting to be vaccinated.  

Therefore, being prepared to help and having the above considerations planned for will very much be a step in the right direction.

Related topics: Health & safety

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