PEOPLE are being urged to wait to be contacted about Covid-19 vaccinations as GPs are being "inundated" with phone calls.

Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group wrote to MPs because of an increasing number of calls about the vaccination and when people will receive it.

Dr Amanda Riley, the clinical director of Darlington Primary Care Network (PCN), said surgeries were being inundated with calls – with receptionists also receiving abuse from some members of the public.

She said: "Our teams are working phenomenally hard on the vaccination programme which will start in Darlington this week.

"Vaccine supply is being rolled out gradually across the country and this is the limiting factor in the programme at present.

"Please be assured that vaccine is coming and we are ready to deliver. We will contact all those who are eligible by text message or phone call to arrange an appointment as soon as the vaccine supply allows, we need to ask you to be patient in the mean time, please do not call your GP surgery, they will not be able to make you an appointment or bump you up the list and they need the phone lines for people with urgent medical needs.

"It is also important to realise that even once vaccinated we must all continue with the same precautions as before in terms of mask wearing, social distancing and even shielding where appropriate."

The letter to MPs, signed by David Gallagher, chief officer of the CCG, described the efforts of PCNs and surgeries as "humbling" and thanked staff. He said: "This is the largest vaccination programme in the history of the NHS, with complex logistical challenges."

"Across the country, hundreds of Primary Care Networks, comprising of thousands of GP practices have joined the vaccination effort which will continue well into the New Year.

"PCNs and practices have, at short notice, mobilised staff and venues to enable them to prepare of vaccinating tens of thousands of people in a Covid safe environment. it is a truly humbling effort and on behalf of the CCG I am extremely grateful for everything they have done and will continue to do to protect people against Covid."

So far around 30 local vaccination sites have opened in County Durham, Darlington, Teesside and North Yorkshire, with more planned.

Details of the programme for the delivery of the vaccine have not been confirmed, but on Monday Prime Minister Boris Johnson said everyone in the top four risk categories – some 13m people – will be offered a vaccine by the middle of February.

So far around 30 local vaccination sites have opened in County Durham, Darlington, Teesside and North Yorkshire.

A spokesperson for NHS County Durham CCG said: “The vaccination programme is already well underway in County Durham, with vaccination sites having been established in the last fortnight and further sites due to open in the coming weeks.

“The approval of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccination is an important step in the battle against Covid-19 and we will be working closely with our colleagues at NHS England to ensure it reaches County Durham residents as soon as possible.

“We understand there is a great deal of interest in both vaccines, but would ask that people do not contact their GP practice. Priority groups for the vaccines have been identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and those eligible will be contacted by their local NHS in the coming weeks.”

Alex Cunningham, MP for Stockton North, said: "Vaccination is the route out of this pandemic and the NHS is carrying out the largest vaccination programme in its history. I am grateful to every single person who has worked and is working to get our people vaccinated.

“It is important to remember that everyone will be vaccinated but that it is being rolled out in stages. No one needs to call for an appointment. If you are in the priority group which is currently being vaccinated, pleased be assured that your GP will contact you.”