Published: 09:56, 13 January 2021
| Updated: 09:57, 13 January 2021
Plans for a new vaccination centre at Lydd Airport are in the final stages.
Subject to approval, the new hub could start delivering Covid-19 jabs to people living on Romney Marsh from next week.
But the location of the centre has left some residents fearful that pensioners would have to walk in the cold to reach it.
Tony Cooper, the chair of Ashford and Romney Marsh Breathe Easy group, said village halls would be better suited.
He said: “Parishioners, residents and my members are looking to their local Parish and Town Councils to object to plans to use Lydd Airport on Romney Marsh as a vaccination hub for the vulnerable.
“Many people don’t have transport and in light of reduced bus services the prospect of being forced to struggle in the cold, wind and the rain to get a jab doesn’t make sense, especially when you consider it would be far safer to use their local village halls to administer the vaccination if for whatever reason the GP Practices can’t open.”
But Cllr Tony Hills, member of Folkestone and Hythe District Council (FHDC) and Kent County Council, supports the airport being set up as a vaccine site, as it offers lots of space.
MP for the area, Damian Collins, has also revealed that a shuttle service could be organised to help people access the airport, which is a mile from the nearest bus stop.
Mr Collins said: "NHS England will this week be asked to give approval for vaccinations to be carried out on Romney Marsh at Lydd Airport.
"Here the airport owners have agreed to provide a shuttle service to take people without their own transport from the bus stop closest to the airport entrance on Romney Road to the airport terminal building.
"They’ll also be working with local volunteer groups to help provide other forms of transport for people that don't have access to a car.
"Again, subject to regulatory approval and the delivery date for the supply of the vaccine, we expect vaccinations to start at Lydd during the week commencing January 18."
A spokesman for NHS Kent and Medway CCG added: “A vaccination service for the Romney Marsh area is in the final planning stages.
“Subject to being approved, a service at Lydd Airport is expected to open in the week of 18-24 January.”
The Civic Centre in Castle Hill Avenue, Folkestone - the home of FHDC - is also expected to start offering jabs by next week.
The former Debenhams shop in Sandgate Road, Folkestone, was also rumoured to become a vaccination hub on social media, but this has not been confirmed.
It comes as the government says 2.6 million doses have been given to 2.3 million people across the UK since the first jabs on December 8.
This is more than all other European countries put together.
It is not known how many people living in the district have been vaccinated so far.
Mr Collins says the government remains "on track" to meet its objective to ensure all vulnerable people and those over 70 will receive a vaccine by the middle of February.
He said: "Our NHS is leading the world in the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine.
"e have vaccinated more people against coronavirus as a proportion of our population than any other country but that still means people want to know when they will get theirs.
"The advice remains the same, that you should wait to be contacted by the NHS and be told that your turn has come to receive the vaccine."
This is not the first time Lydd Airport will be used as something other than an airport - in 2019 it was transformed into a venue for a 12 hour dance festival.
Around 6,000 people attended Connected Festival, which saw more than 100 acts - including So Solid Crew, Andy C, Wilkinson, Problem Central and many more - perform over five stages.