Company doctors are allowed to administer COVID-19 vaccines
In mid-March, the Verl-based automation specialist, Beckhoff Automation, began setting up a vaccination center in the company’s facility on Eiserstraße. As such, Beckhoff is one of the very first companies in the region to actively support the fight against COVID-19 with a comprehensive vaccination infrastructure. In the process, Beckhoff is creating additional coronavirus vaccination capacity, helping to offer vaccine access to as many people as possible. Until now, the local vaccination center has been used by practicing doctors in Verl. Since last week, company doctors have also been allowed to provide vaccinations, and now Beckhoff can extend this opportunity to its own employees along with employees from other companies in the region.
“When the first realistic prospect of a vaccine was announced at the end of 2020, we quickly realized that we wanted to support the vaccination campaign with our own vaccination center," reports Frederike Beckhoff, assistant to the management at Beckhoff Automation. Beckhoff rapidly converted a production hall into a modern, 1,500-square-meter vaccination center. "With the completion at the beginning of April, we were among the first companies in the region to set up our own vaccination center. It was important to us to open our doors to other companies as well. A number of these companies have toured the finished infrastructure and obtained information about how we organized it. If we all work together and support each other, we can significantly accelerate the vaccination campaign and make the vaccine available to many people," continues Frederike Beckhoff, adding: "Theoretically, our six vaccination lanes have given us the capacity to vaccinate 600 people a day since mid-April. However, the current vaccine shortage in Germany is still holding us back at this point."
Vaccinations at Beckhoff since April 28
At the end of April, a Verl pediatrician and a family doctor began vaccinating their patients at the newly created facility. Relying on Beckhoff’s infrastructure and the staff to assist the organization, they have been able to vaccinate more people faster than at their own practice. With the end of the prioritization and the start of the occupational health vaccinations on June 7, Beckhoff was finally able to begin vaccinating its employees last week via the company medical service, ASZ. "At the same time, other companies from the region are already using our vaccination center and the vaccine doses they receive here. At times, our vaccination center is busy until 8 p.m. in the evening and on weekends," reports Tessa Johann-Vorderbrüggen. Together with Frederike Beckhoff, she is handling the entire organization – from scheduling appointments to coordinating the medical, cleaning and security services.
Small businesses also have access to vaccinations
After the completion of the Beckhoff vaccination center was announced, around 35 companies throughout the region also expressed their interest in having their employees vaccinated there. A small number of these companies have already started company vaccinations. Since last week, employees from Köckerling, Goldbeck, Hermann Bock, STÜWA and JOFO have been vaccinated alongside Beckhoff’s own workforce. In addition, the practice of Dr. Gernhold and the Werkarztzentrum Rietberg (WAZ) are also vaccinating employees from numerous small local companies. "We are particularly pleased that companies with smaller workforces also have access to COVID-19 vaccination and do not have to get in line behind the large corporations thanks to WAZ and Dr. Gernhold," says Frederike Beckhoff.
Beckhoff wants more than "just" employee vaccinations
However, local companies and their employees are not the only ones to benefit from Beckhoff’s vaccination center. The city of Verl also supports Beckhoff with operating its vaccination center. In recent weeks, public housing residents, those experiencing homelessness and refugees have already been vaccinated. “The city of Verl organized a mobile vaccination team from the district of Gütersloh that came to our vaccination center," reports Tessa Johann-Vorderbrüggen. "As a company with its roots here the region, we have a responsibility to the community, which we are happy to embrace. We want to do more than offer a comparatively small group of professionals access to this important medical care. Instead, we intend to contribute to the immunization of the entire population. Large-scale vaccination is the only chance we have to effectively combat the coronavirus," says Frederike Beckhoff, explaining the company's strategy.
Vaccination center to be busy for a long time to come
Currently, three Beckhoff employees are working almost full-time alongside the doctors at the company's own vaccination center. They receive daily support from an additional three to seven colleagues from Beckhoff who handle the arrivals and departures along with other organizational activities. In addition, the team is supported by a further eight external helpers – Malteser paramedics as well as specialists from a security service. The second round vaccinations are currently scheduled until autumn. This means that the Beckhoff vaccination center will remain up and running for a long time to come.