A former department store in the heart of Folkestone, pictured above, is about to become the first large-scale COVID-19 vaccination centre in Kent, planning to vaccinate thousands of people a week.  
Thousands to be vaccinated at Kent and Medway’s first large-scale vaccination centre: 28122020 VaccineJab013 (2)

The centre, which will open on Tuesday, will be the first of a number to open in Kent and Medway in the next few weeks, as the Covid vaccination programme ramps up across the county.

An army of vaccinators and support staff from Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT) is taking over the Debenhams store in Sandgate Road to deliver the jab to thousands of vulnerable people. The site will increase the number of vaccinations it delivers in the weeks ahead and will operate from 8am until 8pm, seven-days-a-week.

KCHFT Chief Executive Paul Bentley said: “This is the biggest vaccination programme the NHS has ever undertaken and we are delighted to be playing such a vital part in this rollout to the wider public.

“We are well used to delivering thousands of vaccines a year through our school and community vaccination programmes. Our staff are doing an incredible job to deliver vaccinations at the same time as continuing to be there for anyone who needs our care.

“This really is partnership work at its finest. We are supported by colleagues from across the healthcare system and thanks to our volunteers, local councils and some of our emergency services’ colleagues; we can now roll out the vaccine to protect the communities we care for.”

The Folkestone site will be open to members of the public who have received a letter from the NHS and been invited to book. Nobody needs to contact the NHS, as people will be invited when it is their turn.

Dr Sarah Phillips, Medical Director for KCHFT and Faversham GP, said: “Kent and Medway has been hit hard by the highly transmissible new variant of COVID-19, so we’re delighted to be able to open our first public, large-scale vaccination centre.

“We will be starting with everyone aged 75 years and over, including the over 80s who haven’t yet received their vaccine, and letters will be sent to people living within a 45-minute drive of the site. If they cannot or do not want to travel to our vaccination centre, people can wait to be vaccinated by a local GP service.”

Folkestone & Hythe District Council proposed the use of the Debenhams site before Christmas and KCHFT has been working with council officers on plans and practicalities ever since.

Council Leader Cllr David Monk said: “We are delighted to be able to provide the use of our buildings and particularly this site to be part of such a momentous rollout. The plan has always been that we want it to benefit the town and the wider community. What better way for it to be used in the interim than as vaccination centre playing a pivotal role in making our community safer.”

The new large-scale vaccine centres will each be capable of delivering thousands of vaccinations each week, scaling their operations up and down according to vaccine supplies and demand.

People who book in to a vaccine centre will receive a pre-vaccination assessment before they receive their vaccine.  Appointments are staggered to allow for social distancing and people are urged not to turn up early to avoid queues.



If anyone has already received a jab since the letter was sent out or would prefer to wait to be invited to attend a hospital or GP service, they can simply ignore it. People like care home residents who are unable to travel to vaccine centres, hospitals or GP-led sites are already being jabbed at home.

The Folkestone site is the first public vaccination centre in Kent, but others are due to open across the county in the next few weeks. For a full list of other sites already up and running, visit www.kentandmedwayccg.nhs.uk/covid19vaccine

The NHS vaccinated more than 140 people every minute last week and hopes to do more people next week as more becomes available.

The public has an important part to play to help us in our efforts:

  • Please do not attend the vaccination centre without an appointment.
  • Don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine, we will contact you.
  • When we do contact you, please attend your booked appointments.
  • Please continue to follow all the guidance to control the virus and save lives.

By Ed