Mass vaccine centre opens in Downham Market
- Credit: Sarah Hussain
A new large scale Covid vaccination centre has opened up in a west Norfolk town hall.
Downham Market Town Hall, on Bridge Street, is now providing Covid-19 vaccinations to people in the area after the NHS launched the site on Monday, March 15.
The centre provides an additional option to the mass vaccination centres already delivering vaccines in King’s Lynn, Norwich, Attleborough, North Walsham and Lowestoft, and the hubs delivering vaccinations in local hospitals and GP surgeries.
It comes after people in Downham Market raised concerns over the lack of a site in the town.
Officials have said the centre will initially deliver around 1,000 vaccinations every week.
Caroline Shaw, chief executive at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust (QEH), which is delivering the vaccination centre, said: “We’re delighted to be launching an additional vaccination centre in Downham Market, in full cooperation with Downham Market Town Council, which will increase access to the lifesaving Covid-19 vaccination for our local community.
"It joins a number of centres already providing vaccines across Norfolk and Waveney, including our centre at QEH which has now administered over 20,000 vaccinations.
"This is a fantastic achievement and would not be possible without the dedication and hard work of our staff who have gone above and beyond to deliver this vital programme.”
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Downham Market Town Council said it was delighted to announce the opening at its Town Hall after "working tirelessly" with the NHS to get it open to "serve its residents and residents from the outlying area".
A statement said: "It is vital that people don’t turn up for a vaccine – they must book an appointment via the national booking system, if the site isn’t listed it is because appointments will be fully booked for the site.
"But please keep checking as appointments are added regularly."
Mayor Becky Hayes added: “We have been looking forward to the day when residents can get their vaccination locally, thanks to all the co-joined working with the NHS and the town council the residents of Downham Market will find having the vaccination even easier.
"We look forward to working with the team at the QEH who will oversee the vaccination centre."
South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss said: "This is extremely good news for local residents and builds on the exceptional work already being done by Downham Market GP clinics in delivering vaccinations.
"Earlier in the year I called on ministers for Covid-19 vaccine facilities to be available in Downham and combined with GP provision, pharmacies, the mobile units and larger scale hubs, South West Norfolk is benefitting from the incredibly successful vaccine rollout.
"To date over 50pc of the 16 plus age groups have received their first Covid vaccination and Norfolk has now started delivery of the second jab."
People aged 55 and over who have received a letter can now book a vaccination at a time and location that is convenient to them by going online at www.nhs.uk/covid-vaccination.
Anyone unable to book online can call 119 free of charge, anytime between 7am and 11pm seven days a week.
Melanie Craig, chief executive of NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group said: “NHS staff, supported by volunteers and health professionals that have returned to the NHS are doing an incredible job to deliver what it is the largest vaccination programme in our history, at the same time as providing vital services for people who need our care.
“Please don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine, we will contact you.
"If you receive a letter inviting you to book your first Covid-19 dose via the national booking system, you can do this or choose to wait for your local GP practice to contact you to book an appointment at a site closer to you, there are options available.
“I urge people across Norfolk and Waveney to continue following all the guidance to control the virus and save lives – that means staying at home, and always remembering ‘hands, face and space', it’s also vital for people that have had a dose of the vaccine to continue following the same guidance.”
People aged 55 and over and unpaid carers have been receiving text messages from the NHS this week inviting them to book an appointment via the national booking service.
The text message will be sent using the government’s secure Notify service and will show as being sent from ‘NHSvaccine.'
This new vaccine centre can be accessed via the main entrance to the Town Hall, with limited parking, including disabled bays, available in the main Town Hall car park. It will be free and coordinated by security personnel.