News | Gütersloh, 04/16/2021

Bertelsmann Vaccination Center Takes Shape

A lightweight construction at Arvato’s An der Autobahn site in Gütersloh should be ready for operation in mid-May. If sufficient vaccine is available, as many as 350 people a day can be vaccinated here. Chief Human Resources Officer Immanuel Hermreck and company doctor Sebastian Köhne took a look around the site.

It took just one day to erect the exterior walls and roof of a 600 square meter (approx. 6,500 sq ft) lightweight building for the Bertelsmann Vaccination Center in a parking lot on the edge of Arvato’s Aan der Autobahnsite in Gütersloh. It should be fully operational by mid-May. Then, as soon as the first vaccines are delivered, Bertelsmann can launch its campaign to vaccinate as many as 350 people a day, though it is currently impossible to say when that will be. “I’m pleased that the new Federal Vaccination Ordinance explicitly mentions company doctors, even though it may still take some time before launch,” says Bertelsmann company doctor Sebastian Köhne. With the new Vaccination Center, he and his team, and Bertelsmann companies in the Gütersloh area, are well prepared overall for this day.

“We want to protect our employees as best as possible,” said Chief HR Officer Immanuel Hermreck in March when he announced that the company’s own Vaccination Center would have up to three vaccination lanes. “On the day when sufficient vaccine is available and a change in vaccination prioritization allows us to do so, we will start vaccinating our employees,” emphasized Hermreck during his own tour of the still empty building. “I am pleased that the construction of our own Vaccination Center is going so quickly and smoothly. Our company doctors have planned the medical procedures down to the last detail and are already volunteering to help out at vaccination centers in the region, partly to gain experience. Bertelsmann is ready to start vaccinating.” Hermreck says that this will allow for maintaining operations while also making a corporate social contribution to the population’s vaccination coverage.

‘Like a proper vaccination center, only a little smaller’

The preparations for this are now running at full speed. Now that the building itself is up, workers began to complete the interior yesterday. “At the entrance, visitors’ temperatures will first be taken so that no one who may already be infected is admitted,” explains Dr. Köhne as he enters the still empty hall, gesturing to indicate the areas he means. “There will be a registration desk here where documents can be submitted,” he says, continuing toward the center of the hall to the future waiting area, behind which doctors can give information about the vaccination in separate booths. “Behind this are the actual vaccination rooms, where medical assistants will carry out the vaccinations,” continues Dr. Köhne.

At the back of the hall, the newly vaccinated people will sit for another 15 to 30 minutes in case there are any reactions to the jab, just to be on the safe side. If, for example, an allergic shock occurs, immediate help can be provided in a room specially set up for such very rare emergencies. This emergency room is also easily accessible to the municipal emergency services through a glass door on the side of the building. Finally, next to it is the actual exit through which the vaccinated people can leave the hall after checking out. “It’s all just like a proper vaccination center, only a little smaller,” says the Bertelsmann company doctor. It also includes a social area for the doctors, nurses and volunteers, as well as a room where the delivered vaccines can be prepared and divided into doses once they arrive. “I am very grateful to my medical colleague Andrea Heissmann, but also to many colleagues from various Arvato Supply Chain Solutions departments for the smooth organizational progress of the project so far,” emphasizes Dr. Köhne. Bertelsmann plans to use the Arvato Systems online appointment management system to allocate vaccination appointments – the company is already working successfully with Majorel in this area for the vaccination centers in Lower Saxony.

Vaccination center may be used more widely

So while the floor is gradually being laid, power and internet cables and walls are being installed, furniture and IT equipment are being set up, and – very importantly for infection control reasons – a high-performance ventilation system is being installed, our company doctors are continuing to prepare everything for Day X from a medical perspective. Bertelsmann’s vaccination service is initially aimed at all employees, and here primarily at those from the industrial areas who cannot work from home. “All other colleagues will get their turn a little later,” says Dr. Köhne, adding that it is also conceivable that Bertelsmann’s Vaccination Center could later be opened to employees from other companies that are unable to set up their own centers. “Since we will have already set up the entire logistics, it would only be smart to use it more widely for the fastest possible vaccination of the population.” But the prerequisite for that, he says, is once again: enough vaccine. “And based on current developments, it’s unclear which vaccine that will be. We’ll just have to wait and see.” The company doctor can also envision the Bertelsmann Vaccination Center remaining in place for the longer term. “Perhaps we can also use it in future for testing or flu vaccinations for our employees,” says Sebastian Köhne. In addition, he does not want to rule out the possibility of annual coronavirus vaccination boosters in the future. “If you extrapolate how many vaccinations will then be necessary in Germany, we company doctors can continue to make a major contribution here.”