Lancashire's Covid vaccination rollout continues apace
New large Covid vaccination centres at Blackpool Winter Gardens and Lancaster Town Hall are set to go live this week, along with additional community pharmacy sites.
Thousands of people aged 75 and over and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable will be invited to book a coronavirus vaccination at the new NHS vaccination services in addition to the centre at Blackburn Cathedral.
People who are eligible, live within 45 minutes’ drive from the vaccination sites and who have not already been vaccinated by their local GP-led vaccination service or hospital hub, will receive letters this week from the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service, explaining how they can book their appointment.
Now that more doses of Covid-19 vaccines are available, the NHS is able to open more vaccination services in Lancashire and South Cumbria, including large vaccination centres and pharmacies.
Blackpool Winter Gardens and Lancaster Town Hall are among a number of large sites opening across Lancashire and South Cumbria in the coming weeks to offer a convenient alternative to GP and hospital services, which can deliver thousands of vaccinations every week.
While the NHS is rolling out additional services quickly, it remains important that the public don’t try to book or go to these services before they receive their booking letter.
People who book into the vaccination centre will be greeted by volunteers, who will marshal car parks and register them when they arrive.
Bookings are staggered to allow social distancing. People will receive a health status check and a pre-vaccination assessment before they have their jab and the whole service will be led and overseen by trained nurses.
Jane Scattergood, Covid-19 vaccination director for Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System, said: “As the expansion of the Covid-19 vaccination programme continues to gather pace, we are delighted that Blackpool Winter Gardens and Lancaster Town Hall will both also be used as large vaccination centres and that community pharmacy-led sites are now beginning to open, increasing availability of more local options.
"GPs, nurses, pharmacists, staff from across partners and volunteers are worked incredibly hard behind the scenes to get the site ready as part of the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccinations. We are planning for more vaccination centres to go live in Lancashire and South Cumbria over the coming weeks.
"We are asking the public to support the NHS by not contacting your GP about your vaccination, we will invite you when it is your time.”
“The rollout of the vaccine and establishing these sites involves a wide range of organisations working together. We need to thank the significant support to the NHS to deliver the Covid-19 vaccination programme from our wider partners including Lancashire County Council, Cumbria County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Blackpool Council, our district councils, the military, police, local businesses and many more.”
Nationally more than 80,000 people have trained to deliver the vaccines and will be deployed as supplies allow the programme to expand. They include current and former NHS staff, clinicians from the independent sector and allied health professionals like physios, among others.
Kevin McGee, chief executive of East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, which is leading the recruitment of staff for the vaccination programme throughout Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: “We are grateful for the co-operation of everyone at both the Winter Gardens and Lancaster Town Hall in making these venues available to use as large vaccination centres.
"I would personally like to thank the whole team for their enormous and outstanding contribution in getting it up and running so quickly. It is absolutely instrumental in our fight against this virus and the devastating effects Covid is having in our community.”
Councillor Dr Erica Lewis, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “We are extremely grateful and excited to be able to support the NHS and our communities by opening up the town hall as a vaccination centre.
“To do so has been a huge logistical operation and my thanks go to all of those who have worked so hard behind the scenes to make it happen.”
“The vaccine rollout is instrumental in the fight against Covid-19 and I would urge everyone to book an appointment when it is their turn to do so. But remember - even when you are vaccinated, it’s vitally important to continue to break the chain of infection by washing our hands, using a face covering and keeping our distance from others.”
Dr Arif Rajpura, director of Public Health and Wellbeing for Blackpool, who will be a vaccinator on the Winter Gardens site, said: “I am delighted the vaccination programme is gathering pace and the council can support by putting our venues to good use, I would like to personally thank all those staff involved.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel through this vaccination programme. If you are invited to get vaccinated, please do make an appointment and attend. The more people we get vaccinated, the faster we can all get back to some kind of normality.
“It is also important to remember that, even when vaccinated, it takes three weeks for that vaccination to become effective and even then we need to remain cautious for a little longer and still need to continue to follow all the guidance on social distancing, wearing a face covering, washing hands and isolating.”
Invitations to attend the new centre are being issued to people aged 75 or over or those clinically extremely vulnerable who are not listed as having been vaccinated at a hospital or GP service. If they have received a jab since the letter was sent out or would prefer to wait to be invited to attend a hospital or GP service, they can simply ignore it. Those like care home residents who are unable to travel to vaccine centres, hospitals or GP-led sites are already receiving the vaccine at home.
NHS officials say p[ease don’t delay having your vaccine, but if you can’t travel to a vaccination centre or you would rather wait for an appointment closer to home, you can choose to do that, and your local GP-led service will be in touch soon to offer an alternative.
If you receive a letter from the national NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service and you book an appointment, please make sure you attend it. The sooner you get your vaccination, when eligible, the earlier you will be protected from Covid-19.
As with other vaccination services people should wait to be invited by the NHS.
It will not be possible to use the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service if you have not received an invitation letter. It will also not be possible to get a vaccine at a vaccination centre or community pharmacy without an appointment. Doing so risks disrupting the work of NHS staff in protecting those at highest risk.
In Lancashire and South Cumbria, additional vaccination centres will go live over the coming weeks in Central Lancashire, Morecambe Bay and Pennine Lancashire. As soon as these are ready and available they will appear on the national NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service.
For more information about the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Lancashire and South Cumbria, including how to get involved, visit: https://www.healthierlsc.co.uk/CovidVaccination
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