Mass coronavirus vaccination centre opens in Norwich today
- Credit: Archant
Coronavirus jabs will be administered this morning at Norfolk's first large-scale vaccination centre.
Norwich's Castle Quarter is one of 10 new sites across the country which have been added to the immunisation programme from today.
Patients invited for an appointment will receive their first dose of the vaccine at the shopping centre's food court, with "thousands" set to be inoculated over the coming weeks.
The centre provides an additional option to the local vaccination hubs which began operating in Norfolk and Waveney last month.
They include the area's three main hospitals, as well as 21 GP practices and community buildings.
News of a large vaccination centre coming to Norfolk came as revised figures revealed another 54 people had died in hospital within 28 days of a positive Covid-19 test.
Thirty-eight of those were at Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) in King's Lynn, whose figures were revised going back to January 2.
Eleven more deaths were confirmed at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), four at James Paget University Hospital (JPUH) and one at Norfolk Community Health and Care Trust.
It means the total number of coronavirus-related deaths in our hospitals now stands at 865.
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As Castle Quarter gets set to play its part in the nationwide effort, centre manager Robert Bradley said: "We are extremely pleased and proud to be able to support the NHS and community of Norfolk by opening up the entire food court in Castle Quarter for the county’s first vaccination centre.
"Castle Quarter has stayed open throughout the lockdowns, enabling essential retailers and services to remain available for customers in a safe way in line with national criteria."
Letters offering appointments at the new centre are being sent out via the national booking service to people aged 80 and above who live within a 45-minute drive.
They are being invited to book online or over the phone.
The public has been reminded not to contact GPs or hospitals to arrange a vaccination unless instructed to do so.
People should not travel to Castle Quarter expecting to receive a jab if they do not have an appointment.
Dr David Vickers, medical director at Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, which is coordinating delivery of large vaccination sites across Norfolk and Waveney, called the centre's opening a "major boost".
He added: "We are delighted to be launching the first large vaccination centre in Norwich. The life-saving jab will initially be offered to people aged 80 and over, along with health and care staff.
"The centre is capable of delivering thousands of vaccines in the coming weeks and provides a major boost to our plans to offer protection to those who would benefit most as quickly as possible."
Last week it was revealed health bosses intend to launch a total of 13 large centres across Norfolk and Waveney in the coming weeks and months.
Documents published by Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (NWCCG), which has been leading the roll-out, stated 10 had already been approved.
The other three were said to be awaiting authorisation by NHS England and Improvement.
While the first was confirmed as being in Norwich, the location of the remaining 12 and their opening dates is not yet known.
The other nine large centres opening on Monday are based in Blackburn, Bournemouth, Lincolnshire, Slough, St Helens, Taunton, York, Wembley and Wickford in Essex.
Melanie Craig, chief executive at NWCCG, said the new centre would "accelerate" progress.
"NHS staff are doing an incredible job to deliver what is the largest vaccination programme in our history, at the same time as providing vital services for people who need our care," she said.
"An increasing number of Norfolk and Waveney’s most vulnerable patients have been vaccinated against Covid-19 and this new centre will accelerate progress even further.
"It is vital that you do not attend the Castle Quarter vaccination centre if you do not have an appointment as you will not be able to receive a vaccination.
“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 as much as you can, and always remembering ‘hands, face and space.'"