Volunteers needed, now!

Group training at Tilling Green

After some frantic work during the last three weeks, the vaccination facility in the Tilling Green Centre opens for business on Thursday, May 27. Initially, it will deliver the Pfizer vaccine at around 400 doses per day, subject of course to vaccine availability and Ticehurst pharmacists, Hardik Desai and Ankit Tyagi, supported by colleague Tejas Avaiya, are providing the clinical and administrative lead.

Volunteers have been coming forward and systems put in place to manage the various roles. Local patients have been booking appointments through the national booking website and all the availability for the early days was booked quickly.

However, because the national booking site only responds with options for locations that have vaccine supply, Rye is not always offered as an early choice and those booking need to have patience and persevere for the Rye option.

The Ticehurst team has developed a local system for “end of day vaccinations”, using a reserve list, to ensure that all the vaccine prepared daily is used. People who would like to join this list should make contact via Facebook @ryepfizer.

Providing more capacity

The Rye service will complement the other services in our area (GP surgeries, Etchingham, the Hastings Kings Centre, and the Ore Pharmacy) as well as those further afield. It will provide an additional and convenient capacity, not only for those in Rye and district, but also for any others for whom booking in Rye better suits.

However the centre does need more volunteers to work effectively please and there are various voluntary and paid roles –  as marshals, registration and paid Pfizer vaccinators. The last requires those with some clinical experience. Training and briefing is given for everyone committing to the centre.

Anna from Playden receiving the first vaccination given at the Rye facility

Please spread the word: Any names please to claritychemist@gmail.com, or to the REACT or RyePfizer Facebook pages, or to 07414 617484, or 07984 930315. There is no fixed commitment. Volunteers can give as much, or as little, time as they can manage.

Information is being passed out to the community by Rye News and via social media, using the @ryepfizer or @ryeact (REACT) Facebook Pages. Once contacted there are WhatsApp groups to link volunteers and vaccinators to the facility.

The bigger, wider picture

This week’s NHS Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Meeting: Against the background of the spread of the India variant in parts of the country, regular meetings with the Sussex CCG continue. At the last session on Monday, in addition to the new facility in Rye, we discussed a range of issues affecting the vaccination and related health programmes. Matters included:

  • Ongoing concerns about the rare side effects of the AZ vaccine; under 40s are being offered alternative vaccines;
  • The vaccine programme is reaching to the below 30 year olds;
  • There is no decision yet on the 3rd or autumn jabs;
  • There was discussion about advice for pregnant women and their partners;
  • There are still 10% of the older cohorts (over 50 year-olds) who have not yet been vaccinated and these remain a priority. Work is under way to identify and encourage vaccination;
  • The Moderna vaccine is being given in Brighton.

Protect yourself with two jabs

The NHS stressed that the vaccination programme has been very successful in reducing the spread of the virus and protecting older and vulnerable patients. Therefore everyone is encouraged to get the two vaccinations on offer.

The meeting included some broad discussion of the difficulties with the NHS backlog of routine and elective procedures, dental treatment for NHS patients, and those with long Covid symptoms. The NHS is working to prioritise resources to reduce waiting lists and in addition there is work to establish new ways of working at GP level to make better use of IT and video.

Testing is important … 

We were also reminded of the various sources of testing – the test kits from chemists; by booking online; or by testing in the workplace. Many businesses also have kits for their workforce.

… and so, still, is “Hands-Face-Space”

Finally, with the relaxation of lockdown rules and more people visiting the local area, the message remains that people must “not drop their guard”. The government has been clear that “we don’t want to lose the progress made so far.” Please remember, even after vaccination, “Hands, Face and Space“. And meetings in the fresh air are still safer than ones in enclosed spaces.

Image Credits: Anthony Kimber .


  1. Perhaps a naïve question, but why is it left for a Ticehurst pharmacy to step forward to provide a service for our town when we have more local pharmacies?

  2. Congratulations to everyone involved in making our local vaccination centre in Rye a reality. It is for the good of the whole community. I had to go to New Romney for my jabs but other members of my family have already benefited from going to Tilling Green for theirs. Thank you to all involved. Keep up the good work. You are helping to save lives.

  3. Friday was a real red letter day for vaccinations in rural Rother – the last in groups 1-9 being vaccinated through the GP surgery led mass vaccination centre at Etchingham received their second vaccination helping Rother to achieve a figure of almost 61% of the adult population over 18. This is way ahead (over a third) of the national average, and, given the comments made re hospitalisations in areas coping with the Indian variant, means that our community is doing its best to protect itself and move forward positively. The work that has gone into making this Centre operate so well since it was announced in mid January has been phenomenal, making best use of resources to roll out high numbers of vaccinations in rural Rother. The collaboration of the 7 GP practices has involved staff working often 7 days a week, sometimes at the Centre (or at Hastings Centre helping deliver second Pfizer jabs) with the actual vaccination process, sometimes at the surgery getting people booked in and helping to get their transport arranged, and many of those we have taken have been pleased to see a familiar face. Etchingham was, for first vaccinations, achieving 500+ vaccinations a day (we took 5 groups across on the day they hit almost 550), and it was hard work for everyone involved but we were all focussed on the need to get people fully vaccinated as quickly as possible. My message to the ‘youngsters’ now being called is please, don’t delay, when you are invited go & get it done as quickly as you can.

    I would like to also pay tribute to all those volunteers who made such a difference to the running of the Centre, and to the magnificent security & parking team who stood out for hours in rain, wind, snow, stayed cheerful and helpful, finding wheelchairs for those who needed them, assisting drivers to park properly in bays, finding somewhere for our buses and helping to keep a high throughput for the vaccinators (and providing security to the Centre overnight).

    Etchingham reopens next month as part of the national system giving Pfizer vaccine to the under 30s.

  4. Well done Pat and all those people that have given their time to enable everyone to be vaccinated in Etchingham and now at Tilling Green. Pardon my ignorance, but was there a reason why the beautiful new Hub on Rye Hill could not have been utilised right from the start of the vaccination process? I’m sure that there must be a good reason why it wasn’t.

  5. Dear John, I’m puzzled as to what you mean by ‘getting what Rye & district deserve? Rother’s vaccination figures are the best in East Sussex by a country mile and this has been achieved because of the setting up of the GP led (7 surgeries including Ferry Road and RMC and Northiam & Broad Oak) mass vaccination centre for rural Rother at Etchingham. Rye and the rest of the towns, villages and hamlets in rural Rother got exactly what they deserved – a proper mass vaccination centre which used resources efficiently and effectively to get us all jabbed (1st & 2nd vaccinations) as quickly as possible. 1st vaccinations for groups 1-4 were achieved in 22 days with the rest of that week used for getting any remaining housebound, etc ‘mopped up’ And 2nd vaccinations for 1-9 completed by 28th May. Isn’t that what Rye & district really deserved? I don’t think that we’re so selfish as to only want consideration for Rye, surely the roll out of vaccinations in rural Rother has shown that it is by working together, pooling resources and collaborating that the best outcome is achieved.

    Margot’s query re the Hub – I too had hoped that it might be utilised but access from other areas (eg Battle, Westfield, Robertsbridge) is not that easy, plus (the big one) the Hub only has limited parking of its own – the main parking area is primarily for those attending the RMC (including for dispensary) and/or Rye Hospital and is busy all the time. When you’re vaccinating 500 people a day, almost all of whom are coming by some sort of transport, parking needs space and takes a great deal of management. But the Hub is back open again and there are some really tasty treats to be had in the café…..

  6. Interesting reading the stats at Etchingham, it would also be interesting to know why so many people in Rye and Rother district were directed to other vacination centres, as far as Eastbourne and Folkestone, instead of all going to the no1 centre for Rother at Etchingham

  7. It’s interesting to see that one reason the hub couldn’t be used was because of parking, have you seen the parking at Tilling Green? It’s now one of the chosen free parking areas for those working in Rye much the same as Military Road and even Valley Park on occasions, the old school playground is not that big either.
    As the road is the only way into and out of the estate it will need to be kept clear.

    The reason we chose to go to New Romney was it was an easy route and when we got there we were more than pleased with the treatment we received, why is it that everything that has been done to get this country vaccinated comes in for criticism, have the critics done their bit to help, it will be interesting to see how many critics will be at Tilling Green helping out.

  8. Really pleased that the centre is now up and running a big thank you to everyone who has made it possible! In regard to volunteers a close friend of mine who is medically trained has made contact a couple of times to offer her services but alas no one has got back to her which disappointing bearing in mind she has so much to offer the centre! Any clues as to how she may get a response?

  9. I am a retired HCA, I qualified administering flu, pneumonia and b12 injections . I have tried to offer my experience but as yet no one has gotten back to me. If I can be of any assistance administering these injections please contact me. I would like to stay in the Rye area as I live locally.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here