North East's mass Covid-19 vaccination centre to open next week
The North East’s first mass Covid-19 vaccination centre will open next week for those on the Government’s priority list.
The Centre For Life in Newcastle is one of seven vaccination hubs being opened across the country, each capable of delivering thousands of vaccinations every week.
The centres offer an alternative to GP and hospital services, with those over the age of 80 and NHS staff being prioritised for vaccination.
As letters are sent out to eligible people in their 80s inviting them to book a vaccination, here is everything you need to know about the centre and how it will work.
Who is eligible for a vaccination?
Letters are now being sent out to people aged 80 plus who live 30 to 45 minutes drive from one of the seven new sites and who are not listed as having been vaccinated at a hospital or GP service.
If they have received a jab since the letter was sent out or would prefer to wait to be invited to attend a hospital or GP service they can simply ignore it.
Those like care home residents who are unable to travel to vaccine centres, hospitals or GP-led sites are already being jabbed at home.
Nurses, doctors, physios and other NHS staff working nearby are also being jabbed at the centres, along with social care and care home workers.
The two groups were deemed top priorities by the Government following advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
How can those who recieve an invitation letter book an appointment?
The letters explain how appointments can be made over the phone or online through the national booking service.
If I have not receive a letter can I still book a slot?
No, it will not be possible to use the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service if you have not received an invitation letter.
Doing so risks someone who has not being able to get through and book their appointment.
It will also not be possible to get a vaccine at a vaccination ventre or community pharmacy without an appointment.
Doing so risks disrupting the work of NHS staff in protecting those at highest risk.
As with other vaccination services, people should wait to be invited by the NHS.
What will happen when I go for my vaccination?
People who book in to a vaccine centre will be greeted by volunteers who will marshal carparks and register them when they arrive.
Bookings are staggered to allow social distancing.
They will receive a health status check and a pre-vaccination assessment before they have their jab and then be observed for 15 minutes.
The process should take well under an hour.
Who will be administering the injections?
More than 80,000 people have trained to deliver the vaccines and will be deployed as supplies allow the programme to expand.
They include current and former NHS staff, clinicians from the independent sector and allied health professionals like physios, among others.
There will also be three volunteer roles staffed by St John at vaccination centres: fully trained vaccinators, post vaccination observers and patient advocates.
As well as these volunteers, NHS Responders, coordinated by the Royal Voluntary Service, will also be providing volunteers to be stewards who will play a crucial role in helping people throughout their visit to the centres.
How have the vaccine sites been chosen?
The initial sites were chosen from those ready to vaccinate large numbers of people quickly to give a geographical spread covering as many people as possible.
The new vaccine centres will each be capable of delivering thousands of jabs each week but scaling up and down according to vaccine supplies and demand.
Where else can people receive a vaccine?
There are already almost 1,000 vaccination sites across the country.
The vast majority, almost 800, are GP-led services and they are expected to deliver most of the vaccinations.
The seven new centres will open alongside almost 200 new GP-services and more hospital services this week.
Hundreds of pharmacy-led services will also deliver vaccinations as supplies become available with a handful of pilot sites starting this week.