A POP-UP vaccine centre has opened on Wellington Square in Stockton in response to low uptake in the area.

Teesside has the highest infection rates in the country prompting the NHS to work with councils to increase the number of vaccinations.

The Northern Echo was at the centre for one hour and in that time, no one received a vaccine.

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Across the Tees Valley there are 105,910 people who are eligible for their first vaccine have not come forward, 11,228 that are eligible for their second vaccine have not come forward and 114,435 still need boosters.

Sarah Bowman-Abouna, Director of Public Health for Stockton-on-Tees said: “We know uptake across Teesside is lower than other parts of the country. We are tackling this by making it as easy as possible for people to come to a walk-in centre while they’re out and about and get their vaccine, whether that’s their first dose, second dose, or booster.

“We want to discourage this myth that the Omicron variant is less serious than other variants. The truth is we can’t guarantee that infection will cause less serious illness so it’s vital we vaccinate as many people as possible.”

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Dr Janet Walker, medical director of NHS Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “It’s great that we’ve given 350,000 doses across the Tees Valley.

“However, we have over 100,000 patients who are due to come forward for their first vaccine.

“We need to make it as easy as possible for people to walk in or book appointments around work or other commitments.”

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Professor Neil Watson who leads the Covid-19 vaccination programme said: “Since Omicron arrived towards the end of last year, we’ve been trying to understand it.

“Two doses of Astra Zeneca, Pfizer or Moderna were less effective against Omicron than other variants. With three vaccines the response to the virus was much greater.”

Elsewhere in the region, as of January 12, in Newcastle only 74.2% of people have received their first vaccine and 76.2% of people in Middlesbrough have come forward for their first dose.

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Anyone over 12 across the region is being urged to either book or walk into vaccination sites by the end of January to protect themselves. Appointments for these sites can be booked through the National Booking Service website or by calling 119 between 7am and 11pm daily.

David Reaich, deputy chief medical officer at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Sadly we are continuing to see younger patients who are unvaccinated succumb to this disease, become incredibly poorly and require admission to our critical care.

“The vaccine saves lives and by being unvaccinated you are rolling the dice on your own health and those around you. As we are sadly seeing, age alone is not a defence against this virus. Please get vaccinated."

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Those who do not believe they should be vaccinated are also encouraged to come to a clinic and talk to a clinician to discuss their concerns.

NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Accountable Officer, Amanda Bloor, said: "If you're one of those who were initially hesitant about getting vaccinated against Covid-19 but are having second thoughts, it's not too late to come forward. First and second doses are available to everyone aged 12 and over and I would encourage those who have not yet received a vaccination to take up the offer to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities.”


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