A THIRD mass vaccination centre for the region has opened at Durham’s Arnison Centre to help the NHS in its efforts to give jabs to as many people as quickly as possible.

It joins the vaccination centre at Newcastle’s Centre for Life and the NHS Nightingale Hospital North East, in Sunderland.

Over 500,000 people have been vaccinated by the NHS in the first four priority cohorts. All people aged over 80 are now vaccinated, as well as nine out of ten older care home residents, while large numbers of front line health and social care staff have received their first vaccine too.

The vast majority of people in the 70-75 age groups have now also been offered vaccination as well as those who are classed as extremely clinically vulnerable.

A significant proportion of vaccination has been carried out by local vaccination services run by local GP practices working in primary care networks, alongside hospitals hubs, community pharmacy and community health services.

All staffing and volunteers for the centre have been recruited and trained and are ready to see up to 1,000 people a day.

The car park at Boldon House is used for all vaccination centre patients and there will be ample free parking onsite.

People driving to the centre are asked to only arrive no more than fifteen minutes before their appointment, to ease traffic can flow.

There is a drop off service onsite for family members and taxis.

The programme is working with public transport providers to ensure that people who wish to come by public transport understand how they can do so safely.

Vaccinations are by appointment only via the national booking centre according to priority cohort group.

Residents and business owners who live close by to the centre have been advised and the programme will monitor the situation closely and listen to feedback.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will be used in the centre, there will not be a choice of vaccine.

Dr Stewart Findlay, Primary Care Clinical Director for the NHS Covid Vaccination Programme for the North East and North Cumbria, said: “It’s exciting today to open up this Large Vaccination Centre in Durham.

“Today we will be concentrating on people in Cohort 5, so that’s anybody between 65 and 70.

“At the same time, our GPs through their primary care network centres will be concentrating on our cohort 6, so that’s people who have long-term illnesses, so that’s people who are clinically vulnerable.

“We are also going to be immunising their carers, so it is important that they are registered with the local authority or their GP system. They will then be called by the GPs to the primary care networks to be vaccinated.”

Amanda Healy, director of public health at Durham County Council said: “Please remember that once you have received your vaccine it will take a few weeks for your body to build up protection. It’s also important to be mindful of the fact that the vaccine only protects you and you could still transmit the virus to people around you.

“It’s important we all continue to follow social distancing guidance, practice good hand hygiene and wear a face covering when required.”