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German vaccination centres await government's green light to roll out jabs

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The construction of a planned vaccination center is presented by the Berlin authorities at the 'Arena Berlin' event venue, Dec. 3, 2020
The construction of a planned vaccination center is presented by the Berlin authorities at the 'Arena Berlin' event venue, Dec. 3, 2020   -   Copyright  Markus Schreiber/Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved
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In Germany, hundreds of mass vaccination centres are being set up around the country in preparation for EU regulators authorising the first COVID-19 vaccines.

More than 8 million people are set to receive the vaccine in Germany’s first phase of immunisations.

In just a couple of weeks, the Berlin arena will be transformed into one of six vaccination centres in the German capital.

Every day, more than 3,400 people will pass through its doors to be immunised against COVID-19.

The vaccination will be administered in one of 80 small cubicles, with the second jab coming 21 days later.

Berlin Health Senator Dilek Kalayci says the centre will initially be in action for four and a half months, for the first phase of vaccinations.

"Phase one should primarily take place in vaccination centres, because this vaccine, which we expect to be used, is complex and requires special storage conditions. This means that vaccinations in the usual health system aren't possible," she explained.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine needs to be stored at -70C - it will be kept in a secret location before being transported to the German centres.

The €200-million project will also need the help of around 3,000 staff members across Berlin’s six facilities.

Project leader Albrecht Broemme designed the blueprint for the centres using Lego.

"The Lego was a mechanism to make the idea a reality. I built the vaccination booths with Lego on four Lego panels, then I built a consultation area at the front, the entrance and exit, a first aid point and a logistical base for storage. And this basic idea can now be seen here (in the arena)," he said.

The first people expected to be vaccinated here are health workers and people from high-risk groups, who will be contacted individually by post.

"The letters are ready, the facilities are ready. We can send out the invitations at the push of a button. We also have an appointment system," Kalayci said. The appointments will be available to book via a call centre and also online. "We are, of course, also relying on the willingness of Berliners to be vaccinated," she added.

A mammoth task lies ahead and all that’s needed now is the government’s green light to fill the empty shelves and begin vaccinating against COVID-19.