A new mass vaccination hub is opening at an orthopaedic hospital with a convention centre also slated as another location, as Covid jab efforts are stepped up across Shropshire.
The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital (RJAH) near Oswestry will be open “later this week”, while Telford International Centre (TIC) is mooted to be turned over to vaccinations “by the end of the month”, according to town council chiefs.
Shaun Davies, the leader of Telford & Wrekin Council, said he was “over the moon” the Telford conference venue was to be part of a drive to get the jab to the county’s older and most vulnerable residents.
In a statement on Facebook on Tuesday, he said: “Over the moon that after much fighting for and pushing, I have it confirmed a mass vaccination site at the Telford International Centre will be up and running by the end of this month.
“We are fighting for this to be brought online earlier and we continue to work hard to support the Government to make this happen.”
He added: “On the vaccination front things have been too slow in Telford and Wrekin, and that must change.”
Vaccinations for those aged 80 and above had already started at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital as of December 8 last year, as well as jabs for priority at-risk care home and frontline healthcare staff.
County NHS chiefs who are coordinating the rollout said further centres and local vaccination services would be delivered “in the coming weeks”.
Jabs have begun being administered to care home residents in the county with the ambition that all older residents and staff would have been vaccinated, through a service delivered by GP surgeries, “by the end of January”.
In a statement, the NHS Shropshire Telford and Wrekin sustainability and transformation partnership (STP), said: “These (services) will include local vaccine services provided by GPs and pharmacists, in people’s homes for those who are housebound and new dedicated vaccination centres to make sure that everyone who needs a vaccine is able to get one.”
The STP said it was unable to confirm Covid-19 vaccination sites until they went live, in response to a request for comment on the Telford conference centre.
However, the partnership confirmed the RJAH orthopaedic hospital was set to start delivering Covid vaccines by the end of the week.
In a statement, Mark Brandreth, RJAH chief executive, said: “We are delighted to be opening a vaccination hub at RJAH later this week.
“We will be working closely with our primary care network colleagues in north Shropshire to offer this vital service for our local community.
“The vaccine is our route back to a normal life, so I would encourage everyone who is offered an appointment to grab the opportunity.
“The NHS will be in touch with you as soon as it is your turn, so there is no need to call us.”
Meanwhile, Mark Pritchard, MP for The Wrekin, said almost 9,000 people across Shropshire had been vaccinated so far, with the target to give another 76,000 the Covid jab by the end of March.
Thanking the NHS and Public Health England staff for “working so hard to scale-up and roll-out, at pace, both vaccines”, he added: “Real progress is being made to beat the virus.”
Angie Wallace, Shropshire’s Covid-19 vaccination programme director, said: “We are working hard to ensure that that everyone who needs a vaccine is able to get one.”
She added: “I would urge the public to come forward when they are called up for the vaccine and to make sure they attend their appointments.
“Please do not contact your practice or the NHS for a vaccine; you will be contacted by the NHS when it is your turn.”