THE number of Covid deaths at Harrogate hospital is approaching the 200 mark as health chiefs look to speed up vaccinations ahead of winter.

The hospital’s toll since the pandemic began currently stands at 195 with the latest death of a patient who died within 28 days of testing positive being reported on 3 November.

Booster vaccines are being made available for over 50s and any over 16 with a health condition that puts them at high risk from Covid.

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The NHS has shortened the length of time between second and third doses – and those eligible can now get vaccinated simply by turning up at a walk-in site.

However, these sites are currently limited in Harrogate with patients being asked to travel to Pateley Bridge or outside of the district as far as Bradford or Batley.

The NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) last week said it was unable to open any more walk-in sites in the area as “all clinics are running at capacity” and that it would do so “as soon as possible”.

A CCG spokesperson said: “If we open walk-ins now it is likely we would exceed our vaccine allocation and there would be some disappointed people and negative feedback which we are trying to avoid.”

Appointment-based vaccines are still available to book at local clinics via the national booking system which also has dedicated slots for 12 to 15-year-olds available at the Homecare Pharmacy site in Knaresborough.

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There was an aim to complete the rollout of vaccines to this age group by the start of half-term, however, progress has been slow with less than 20% in the Harrogate district receiving their single dose.

These jabs are being made available at schools but also at other sites including Askham Bar in York, Leeds United’s Elland Road stadium, the Northern Echo Arena in Darlington and Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium.

It was recently announced that Harrogate’s Great Yorkshire Showground will reopen as a vaccine centre for an expected busy period of booster jabs in December.

The venue closed for vaccinations in August.

Meanwhile, there are currently 24 Covid patients receiving treatment at Harrogate hospital – a slight fall from 25 this time last week.

The district’s weekly infection rate also remains the highest in North Yorkshire at 548 cases per 100,000 people.

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