Thousands of people aged 80 and over are being invited to book a coronavirus vaccination at a new NHS larger scale vaccination centre at Blackburn Cathedral.
People who are eligible, live within 45 minutes’ drive from the new vaccination site and who haven’t already been vaccinated by their local GP led vaccination services or hospital hub, will receive letters from the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service, telling them how they can book their appointment.
Now that more doses of Covid-19 vaccines are available, the NHS is able to open more vaccination services in Lancashire and South Cumbria, including large vaccination centres and, in the near future, pharmacies. Blackburn Cathedral is one of a number of larger sites opening across Lancashire and South Cumbria in the coming weeks to offer a convenient alternative to GP and hospital services, which can deliver thousands of vaccinations every week.
The NHS is rolling out additional services quickly, but it remains important that the public don’t try to book or go to these services before they receive their booking letter.
People who book into the vaccination centre will be greeted by volunteers, who will marshal car parks and register them when they arrive. Bookings are staggered to allow social distancing. People will receive a health status check and a pre-vaccination assessment before they have their jab and the whole service will be led and overseen by trained nurses.
People driving into Blackburn to get their coronavirus vaccination at Blackburn Cathedral will be able to park for free in Council-owned car parks at Weir Street and Penny Street, Blackburn with Darwen Council has announced. Marshalls in operation on the sites will check if anyone parking there is going for a vaccination and ensure no tickets are handed out.
Jane Scattergood, Covid-19 Vaccination Director for Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System, said: “As the expansion of the Covid-19 vaccination programme continues to gather pace, we are delighted that Blackburn Cathedral will be used as a large vaccination centre. GPs, nurses, pharmacists, countless other staff, and volunteers have worked incredibly hard behind the scenes to get the site ready as part of the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccinations. We are planning for more vaccination centres to go live in Lancashire and South Cumbria over the coming weeks. We are asking the public to support the NHS by not contacting your GP about your vaccination, we will invite you when it is your time.”
“The rollout of the vaccine and establishing these sites involves a wide range of organisations working together. We need to thank the significant support to the NHS to deliver the Covid-19 vaccination programme from our wider partners including Lancashire County Council, Cumbria County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Blackpool Council, our district councils, the military, police, local businesses and many more.”
Nationally more than 80,000 people have trained to deliver the vaccines and will be deployed as supplies allow the programme to expand. They include current and former NHS staff, clinicians from the independent sector and allied health professionals like physios, among others.
Kevin McGee, Chief Executive of East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, which is leading the recruitment of staff for the vaccination programme throughout Lancashire and South Cumbria, said: “We are grateful for the co-operation of everyone at the Cathedral in making the Crypt available to use as the area’s first mass vaccination centre and I would personally like to thank the whole team, including staff from East Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, for their enormous and outstanding contribution in getting it up and running so quickly. It is absolutely instrumental in our fight against this virus and the devastating effects Covid is having in our community.”
Councillor Mohammed Khan, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “I am delighted that Blackburn Cathedral’s crypt will soon host the first large vaccination centre in Lancashire. This is a small piece of history for our borough that we can wear proudly and, while all indications are our battle with the virus will get worse before it gets better, this marks a real turning point. My warmest thanks to the team at the cathedral for facilitating this.
“With this new site open and work already underway to support the roll-out of the vaccine elsewhere in the borough, we must pick up the pace and get people vaccinated in the shortest time possible. I urge everyone invited to attend an appointment to do so. And to keep following the Government’s lockdown restrictions at all times.”
The Very Reverend Peter Howell-Jones, The Dean of Blackburn Cathedral, said: “At the heart of the Christian faith is love and hospitality, and a God that cares for all people. It is only right that in times of national crisis we offer our building as a safe and accessible space for this exciting vaccination programme and be here to serve the nation in these times of deep uncertainty and fear.
“We see this as a sign of great hope in the fight against this pandemic and are proud to be at the heart of it.”
Professor Dominic Harrison, Director of Public Health and Wellbeing for Blackburn with Darwen, said: “Vaccinating the most vulnerable people in our communities, those most likely to be hospitalised, will make a very big difference to how quickly we can exit the most severe control measures we have had to put in place to save lives. I urge everyone invited to attend for vaccination to take up their appointments – we cannot afford to miss even one opportunity.
“Although we are going to have a very big challenge over the next two months, we should remember – it is always darkest just before the dawn and the vaccination programme is truly the ‘beginning of the end’ of the pandemic.”
Invitations to attend the new centre are being issued to people aged 80 or over who are not listed as having been vaccinated at a hospital or GP service. If they have received a jab since the letter was sent out or would prefer to wait to be invited to attend a hospital or GP service, they can simply ignore it. Those like care home residents who are unable to travel to vaccine centres, hospitals or GP-led sites are already receiving the vaccine at home.
Please don’t delay having your vaccine, but if you can’t travel to a vaccination centre or you would rather wait for an appointment closer to home, you can choose to do that, and your local GP-led service will be in touch soon to offer an alternative.
If you receive a letter from the national NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service and you book an appointment, please make sure you attend it. The sooner you get your vaccination, when eligible, the earlier you will be protected from Covid-19.
As with other vaccination services people should wait to be invited by the NHS. It will not be possible to use the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service if you have not received an invitation letter. It will also not be possible to get a vaccine at a vaccination centre or community pharmacy without an appointment. Doing so risks disrupting the work of NHS staff in protecting those at highest risk.
In Lancashire and South Cumbria, additional vaccination centres will go live over the coming weeks in Central Lancashire, Fylde Coast, Morecambe Bay and Pennine Lancashire. As soon as these are ready and available they will appear on the national NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service.
For more information about the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Lancashire and South Cumbria, including how to get involved, visit: https://www.healthierlsc.co.uk/CovidVaccination
Notes to editors:
About Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System
Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS) is the partnership of organisations working together to improve health and care services and help the 1.8 million people in Lancashire and South Cumbria live longer, healthier lives.
We are a partnership of NHS, local authority, public sector, voluntary, faith, community, social enterprise and academic organisations working together to join up health and care services, listen to the priorities of our communities, local people and patients and tackle some of the biggest challenges we are all facing.
Dr Amanda Doyle leads the ICS with support from senior clinicians and managers from every part of Lancashire and South Cumbria.
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