The second large NHS Vaccination Centre for the North East and North Cumbria opened today (Tuesday, 26th January) at the NHS Nightingale Hospital North East, Sunderland.
Large Vaccination Centres are part of NHS plans to step up capacity and rolling out the vaccine more widely, complementing the incredible work being carried out by local GPs in Primary Care Networks providing local vaccination services and by NHS staff in Hospital Hubs.
The NHS Nightingale Hospital North East was developed as a new temporary hospital to provide access to 460 additional critical care beds for confirmed Covid-19 patients, as part of the national response to the pandemic.
While it has so far it has not been needed, it remains on stand by for its original purpose.
Designed with large open spaces within its wards, it was created with social distancing space in place which makes it ideal to easily use as a vaccination centre, allowing the NHS to extend the invitation for many more people to get vaccinated.
NHS Nightingale Vaccination Centre
Should hospital capacity be required it will be easily returned back into wards. The vaccination centre based there will be known as the NHS Nightingale Vaccination Centre.
People aged 70 and over are being invited to book a coronavirus vaccination at NHS Nightingale Vaccination Centre from Tuesday 26th January or at Newcastle’s International Centre for Life.
People in the nationally agreed priority groups, who live 30 to 45 minutes drive from the centres, are receiving an invitation letter from the NHS national booking service which will explain how they can book a slot – over the phone or online through the national booking service.
This is in addition to local health and social care workers who are being invited via their employers to book appointments and will need to provide proof of their identity and professional role when arriving for their vaccination.
An alternative to local GP vaccination service
It is important to note that the vaccination centres offer an alternative to local GP vaccination services. People over 70 may wish to wait until they receive an invitation from their own GP practice, this is likely to be closer to where they live and might be more convenient depending on individual circumstances.
Dr Stewart Findlay, Primary Care Clinical Director for the NHS Covid Vaccination Programme for the North East and North Cumbria, said:
“We are pleased to add another large centre to the range of options that are available for people to have their covid vaccine.”
Dr Findlay continued: “If you already have an appointment with your GP please keep it, there’s no need to respond to the national booking service invitation. And for everyone else, please continue to be patient. Don’t contact the NHS to ask for an appointment as it stops us from getting on delivering the vaccination programme.”
Gerry Taylor, Sunderland’s Executive Director of Public Health and Integrated Commissioning said: “I’m delighted to see Sunderland hosting a new large vaccination centre for the region.
We know that the Covid vaccine saves lives and is the best hope we have of protecting people against this virus.Gerry Taylor, Sunderland’s Executive Director of Public Health and Integrated Commissioning
“We know that the Covid vaccine saves lives and is the best hope we have of protecting people against this virus. Anything that helps get the vaccine out to our communities as quickly as possible is to be welcomed.
“The new centre will play a significant part in the roll out of the vaccine to health and social care staff and the over 70s in Sunderland and from neighbouring areas, complementing the excellent work already underway in our Primary Care Networks and at Sunderland Royal Hospital to vaccinate our most vulnerable residents and critical workers. We’re pleased to have been able to work with NHS colleagues to support the NHS Nightingale North East Vaccination Centre.
Gerry continued: “It’s vital to remember that even after having their vaccination, people must continue to follow the national stay at home rules and hands, face and space guidance to protect themselves and others.”
Notes to editors
NHS Nightingale Vaccination Centre and Newcastle’s International Centre for Life are the first two large vaccination centres for the North East and North Cumbria, others will open over the coming weeks.
The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is helping to coordinate the successful roll out of vaccination services across the North East and North Cumbria.
This involves hospitals, GP practices, community health services across the region, working closely with local authorities and other partners.