Fort Regent will only be able to close as a vaccination centre when vaccines are developed that are better for use in smaller settings, according to the island’s top pandemic medic.
The centre opened in Queen's Hall in December 2020 after 12 days of construction from 20 reservists in the Jersey Field Squadron, alongside Fort Regent staff and JT engineers.
Since then, it has welcomed tens of thousands of islanders through its doors for first, second and booster jabs. More than 80,000 people have had at least one dose of the vaccine.
However, Fort Regent's continued use as a Vaccination Centre has more recently been called into question, with many concerned that it is blocking redevelopment of the Fort and creation of enhanced sporting facilities as part of the Government's £100m 'Inspiring Active Places' plan.
Asked how many more 'booster' doses might be able to expect, and how long the centre will remain open as a result, Dr Ivan Muscat MBE said that it would depend on guidance from European and UK authorities like the JCVI, global studies of immunity and new variants.
Video: The Fort Regent Vaccination Centre when it first opened.
"Certainly we already have experienced and continue to experience the importance of having an annual influenza vaccine and it may very well be therefore that covid will require something like that going forward," he said, adding that covid and flu jabs may be combined in future.
"People are already talking about that and actually trialling the type of approach. That may very well be the future, but I cant give... any more detail that because there isn't any more detail to share."
Dr Muscat continued: "...We are moving to a more normal type of relationship with this virus - by 'normal', I mean similar to the relationship we have with other viruses.
"The emergency-type response we've had - part of which is the centralisation of a mass vaccination centre - will eventually be desorbed back to peripheral sites.
"That will also depend on provision of vaccines which are more suitable for vaccination through smaller centres, using normal cold chain requirements or smaller package sizes compared with the mass packages that we currently receive."
The comments came during a press conference in which Ministers laid out their 'De-escalation Plan' for eventually removing all covid restrictions by the end of March - including mandatory isolation for covid-positive people with symptoms.
This, they said, was due to the high number of vaccinated islanders, and the significantly lower risk of severe disease posed by the omicron variant.
Dr Muscat nonetheless urged islanders to keep "up to date" with their vaccinations, and to monitor their own health with regular lateral flow testing.
"All of these responses remain in place, and we must maintain good vaccination protection despite very many measures being de-escalated, to ensure we continue to move in the right direction," he explained.
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