Covid: More North East vaccination sites to open 'within a month'

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image copyrightOwen Humphreys/PA Wire
image captionAround 700 people a day have attended the site in Newcastle since it opened

More mass Covid-19 vaccination centres are to open across the north-east of England within a month, the head of the region's immunisation programme said.

Professor Neil Watson said there could be sites in Cumbria, Middlesbrough, County Durham and Darlington, with more details expected in the coming weeks.

The region's first was opened at Newcastle's Centre for Life on Monday.

So far 433,000 people across the North East and Yorkshire have been vaccinated, including 46% of over 80s.

media captionInside Newcastle's Covid mass vaccination centre

The programme is also looking for several hundred volunteers to help as other centres open.

Prof Watson, of Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said about 700 people each day have attended the Newcastle site.

"It has been going pretty well in terms of the number of people that we have been able to get vaccinated," he told BBC Radio Newcastle.

"Lets not forget we have got colleagues who have been working on vaccinations for the last few weeks as well, there's a huge amount of work going on in hospital hubs by GPs and by community teams.

"Really it's our general practitioners who have been leading the way in getting the first cohort through the system and that's where the biggest numbers at this point are coming from."

Prof Watson added that a new indoor queuing system had been put in place after dozens of elderly people had to queue outside to get their jab on Tuesday.

Some had turned up as early as 90 minutes before appointments. Others were asked to rebook after snow hit parts of north-east England.

"By yesterday the system was working really well, we had no waits at all and people were essentially arriving and were being put straight through the system," he said.

"I think it's fair to say that Tuesday was a difficult day for us, again I would apologise to those who were with us on Tuesday.

"We had s significant wait and queuing outside and it was a cold day. It was not a great day for clearly the patients who were with us and also for our team who were distressed by that."

Prof Watson added that those who have received the vaccine still needed to continue following social-distancing guidelines.

The government has promised that all over-70s, the extremely clinically vulnerable and front-line health and care workers - about 15 million people - will be offered a jab by mid February.

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