Stoke-on-Trent’s mass vaccination centre will open on Monday, NHS officials have announced.
The facility at Daniel Platt Business Park, off Brownhills Road, Tunstall, will initially focus on providing Covid-19 jabs for frontline health and social care workers from next week.
Vulnerable patient groups will also be invited to receive vaccinations at the centre, which will be the first of several large community sites planned for Staffordshire.
A total of 80,015 residents across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire have so far received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, including 60 per cent of over-80s.
Since December, vaccines have been delivered via the main hub at the Royal Stoke, 20 GP practices and mobile teams.
NHS leaders say the new mass vaccination centre will allow even more local people to get the jab in the coming weeks and months.
The site will be run by Midlands Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust (MPFT), which has been working with various partners including Stoke-on-Trent City Council. MPFT chief executive Neil Carr, who is also senior responsible officer for the vaccination programme, said: “This site represents a major step forward in what is already a very impressive network of facilities locally that are providing vaccinations that will help defeat Covid-19.
“The aim of the community vaccination site is to increase capacity locally for Covid-19 vaccines. To begin with the Tunstall site will concentrate on vaccinating frontline staff who work in health and social care in community settings. These include staff from local NHS trusts, local authorities and private organisations, who frequently visit vulnerable people in their own homes.
“From there we will be in a position to invite members of the public based upon the Government’s priority list which targets the most vulnerable first.
“However, those eligible will continue to receive an invite from their GP and will be vaccinated at a local vaccination site. These are GP led and have been instrumental in Staffordshire as we have successfully introduced the vaccine locally over the past couple of weeks.”
It is understood that mass vaccination centres are also due to open soon in Stafford and East Staffordshire.
Mr Carr added: “The development of the community vaccination sites has been a great example of partnership working between the NHS, local authorities and other partners. Together we have efficiently implemented facilities which will play a significant role in supporting local residents to protect themselves against coronavirus.”
Local politicians have been lobbying for the Tunstall centre to be opened as soon as possible, following concerns that the schedule had been pushed back.
City council leader Abi Brown welcomed the launch of the centre.
She said: “I am delighted to see the first vaccines take place at this new vaccine centre.
“This is an essential way out of the virus for us – not only to protect our loved ones, friends and colleagues but also to ensure essential services can continue and so that we can get back to normal life as quickly as possible.
“It was really important to me that people in the city were able to access this service locally so it’s a huge step forward. Hope is shining through and we just need to keep working collectively to do all we can to kick coronavirus out of Stoke-on-Trent.”
Dr Paddy Hannigan, clinical lead for the vaccination programme, said: “This is the largest vaccination programme ever, and we are seeing real progress.
“No-one will get left behind. But it is important we concentrate on frontline health and care staff and those patients in the most vulnerable groups first. So please wait to be contacted, and when you are given the opportunity to get protection from Covid, take it.
“In the meantime we all need to concentrate on following the national lockdown regulations, stay at home and take Covid advice from official NHS sources.”