London’s world-renowned Science Museum reopens as a Covid-19 vaccination centre on Thursday (March 11).
The museum on Exhibition Road in South Kensington, which was founded in 1857, will serve north-west London as part of the NHS’s vaccination programme.
Vaccinations will take place in Special Exhibition Gallery 1, a vast temporary exhibition space where thousands of artefacts have been displayed.
These include a nuclear fusion reactor, historic robots and the spacecraft flown by the first woman in space, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova.
Preparations are now also underway for a coronavirus-focused exhibit to go on display once the museum reopens. It will include empty vaccine vials donated by the NHS.
Thousands of people are expected to be vaccinated in the museum each week by NHS medical professionals, supported by staff from the museum.
It’s the first national museum in the UK to host a vaccination centre.
‘It’s wonderful to see part of the Science Museum repurposed for this country’s most pressing task in a generation, vaccinating the adult population,’ said Sir Ian Blatchford, the museum’s director.
‘Uniquely, our museum can both tell the story of how vaccination has saved millions of lives, and also play a part in ensuring vaccines protect the nation from Covid-19.
‘It is an extraordinary sensation to be collecting and living history all at once.’
The Science Museum will open as a vaccination centre nearly a year after it first closed due to Covid-19, on March 17, 2020.
It was closed for five months between March and August, its longest period of closure since the Second World War.
The Museum also announced that the empty vials of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines used for the first mass vaccinations worldwide were donated by NHS England to the Science Museum Group Collection.
The vials, Covid-19 testing kits and signage from the government’s daily briefings will form part of a new Covid-19 display in Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries.
Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries is the Science Museum’s home for what it calls ‘the most significant medical collections in the world’, including the world’s first MRI scanner and Sir Alexander Fleming’s penicillin mould.
The public will be able to view the new Covid display when the Science Museum reopens in May 2021, restrictions permitting.
Once the museum reopens, the public and those visiting for their vaccination can see the vials, alongside a timeline of key objects from the history of vaccination and displays about other infectious diseases like ebola, polio and the plague.
Prototype medical devices, coronavirus-themed greetings cards, homemade masks and many other items – including some from the vaccination centre itself – will also join the collection.
This will provide a permanent record for future generations of life, science and culture during the pandemic.
Tracing its origins from the Great Exhibition of 1851, the Science Museum has pioneered interactive science interpretation for more than eight decades and is one of London’s biggest tourist attractions.
It’s part of the Science Museum Group, along with the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, the Science and Industry Museum in Manchester, the National Railway Museum in York and Locomotion in Shildon, County Durham.
WHO CAN BOOK THEIR CORONAVIRUS VACCINE?
The NHS is currently offering the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine to people most at risk from coronavirus.
Brits can book or manage their coronavirus vaccination on the NHS website, but to do so they have to meet the current criteria:
– You are aged 55 or over
– You are at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
– You are an eligible frontline health or social care worker you have a condition that puts you at higher risk (clinically vulnerable)
– You have a learning disability you are a main carer for someone at high risk from coronavirus
The NHS says: ‘If you are not eligible yet, wait to be contacted.
‘The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have the vaccine. It’s important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then.’
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