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WCCB transformed for medical use: Vaccination center ready for operation as of Tuesday

WCCB transformed for medical use : Vaccination center ready for operation as of Tuesday

Starting in January, 1,130 people are to be vaccinated daily at the WCCB. The state and federal governments have rented the congress center until the end of March to serve as a vaccination center. It will be ready for operation as of Tuesday.

"Have you been to Nairobi yet?" This is likely to be one of the most frequently asked questions in Bonn in the first half of 2020. Because it’s the Nairobi room in the World Conference Center Bonn (WCCB) where doctors will give those long-awaited vaccines to help combat the coronavirus. On Friday afternoon, the media was invited to see the makeshift vaccination center.

Mayor Katja Dörner spoke of a "small ray of hope in a dramatic and difficult time." For the city administration, it was an "enormous challenge" to get the temporary vaccination center set up by December 15. Workers started on Monday to transform the congress center into a vaccination center. According to Dörner, however, the first vaccinations will not be given until the beginning of January, as soon as a vaccine has been approved and delivered.

The makeshift vaccination center at WCCB is designed to handle 1,130 people a day, reported Bernd Voigt, spokesman for the Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KVN) in Bonn. If more vaccine doses are delivered, however, it will also be possible to process more people. He does not fear a shortage of medical personnel because of the large number of physicians in NRW, including retired doctors who have volunteering to help. Voigt said, "If we can't manage it, no one can."

At the main entrance, people who want to be vaccinated have to bend their foreheads over a stand that measures body temperature without physical contact. Then hands are disinfected and the person wanting to get the vaccine goes to one of five counters to confirm their appointment. "There will be rigid appointment management," Dörner emphasized.

In the foyer, tables are already lined up like in a classroom. At the tables, everyone can fill out the vaccination sheet with personal information about allergies or previous illnesses, for example, and read the information about the vaccination. In an adjoining room, there will be an optional educational film from the German government.

One can then take the stairs or a ramp to the second floor - either to a waiting area or directly to the Nairobi room. There, mobile walls divide the area into eight stations. At each station, a doctor and a helper explain the vaccination and give the injection. One of the stations is wide enough for a wheelchair to pass through. The federal government has stipulated that there must be at least five stations. In Bonn, at least six are to be staffed. "At each point, there is the option of leaving, for example, if papers are still missing or the person’s health does not permit the vaccination," explained fire chief Jochen Stein.

Finally, on the other side, a corridor leads from Nairobi to the Vienna hall, where those vaccinated should rest for 30 minutes if possible. In a room next door, paramedics can help immediately in case anyone has a reaction to the vaccine. All in all, it will likely take an hour from start to finish, estimates Stein. The second vaccination dose must then be administered exactly 21 days later. Besides the medical staff, about 60 to 70 people will be needed to staff the center from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. Many municipal employees, including the orchestra of the Bonn Opera House, will be working there.

WCCB boss Michael Kleine-Hartlage expressed his relief at finally being able to reopen the building for meaningful use after months of standstill. He described it "as the most beautiful vaccination center in NRW and perhaps also beyond the state borders." The rooms have been reserved for this purpose at least until March 31. The state and federal government are paying to use the facility.

Susanne Engels from the health department is not able to say right now how long the vaccination center will remain in operation. But she expects other vaccines to be approved later in the year, such as the one from the British company Astra Zeneca, which is less complex to handle and does not require extreme cooling. "Those will be available already in a syringe, just like a flu shot," Engels said. At that point, primary care physicians will also be giving vaccinations in their medical practices. "Hopefully, in the late spring and into the summer, our lives will get back to much more normal with this," Engels said. After that, travel will also become easier again, whether to Vienna or Nairobi.

Orig. text: Martin Wein

Translation: ck