DARLINGTON'S largest vaccine centre was hit by large queues and extended waiting times yesterday as staff struggled to cope with an increased demand in people getting their Covid jab.

Some attendees at the centre, which has capacity for more than 7,700 people per week, reported waiting more than two hours after signing in with long lines snaking inside the building.

One person said they arrived for their appointment scheduled for 10:50am and were told the wait time for the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab would be 40 minutes while the queue for the Pfizer jab would be one hour 15 minutes.

However, the patient was not vaccinated until over two hours later.

It was also reported that staff were ‘working through their lunch’ in order to vaccinate the large queues of people.

But the NHS praised the work of staff at the centre after experiencing an increase in appointments.

A spokeswoman for the North East and North Cumbria vaccination programme said: “Our NHS staff and volunteers continue to work flat out to vaccinate those who are eligible and it is a testament to their hard work that so many younger people are already taking up the offer of a jab as we opened up to people aged 25-29.

“Darlington Arena Vaccination Centre is vaccinating up to 1,100 people a day – we are grateful for the public’s support in ensuring everyone gets vital protection from coronavirus.”

Councillor Kevin Nicholson, cabinet member for Health and Housing, said the reports of large queues were ‘out of character’ and said locals should not to be deterred by the delays.

“It’s never great when people have to wait to get their vaccine but thankfully it’s very rare that it happens,” he said.