RIVERSIDE STADIUM: One venue in health chiefs’s sights for jab hub
A MASS vaccination site has been lined up on Teesside “in the near future” – with the Riverside Stadium one venue in the sights of health chiefs.
Hospitals, two pharmacies and 13 GP sites are offering jabs across the Tees Valley at the moment.
But Middlesbrough councillors have heard how a large-scale jab hub – like those in Newcastle and Washington – will come to Teesside soon.
Andrew Rowlands, from the Tees Valley Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), told Tuesday’s health scrutiny panel how a mass vaccination centre would come to the area “in the near future”.
He later added dates and times for the new hub had not been confirmed yet.
When panellists pressed on where the site might be, South Tees Public Health director Mark Adams said the Riverside Stadium had been under consideration as a mass vaccine site for “some time in March”.
Mr Adams said: “I don’t know if that’s been confirmed or not.
“That’s certainly one of the sites they were looking at.”
Operationally, the NHS is in charge of delivering the country’s vaccination programme.
Stockton South MP Matt Vickers called for Teesside to get a mass jab hub last week as part of efforts to accelerate the roll out.
In response, NHS England said it had plans for “a number” of large vaccination centres for the North East and North Cumbria – and Teesside “was included” in these plans.
However, the body stopped short of confirming any sites.
Pharmacies in Acklam and Fairfield, in Stockton, are issuing jabs at the moment.
And Mr Rowlands told councillors more would be offering vaccines in the coming weeks and months once their applications were processed.
The scrutiny panel was also told how 22,000 people in the top four priority groups had been offered jabs in Middlesbrough up to February 15.
Cllr Brian Hubbard, member for Park End and Beckfield, suggested Middlesbrough Bus Station could work well as a mass vaccination site.
He said: “It’s for people who can’t get access if they don’t have their own transport.
“It might encourage those who might go shopping once lockdown lifts to get the vaccine at the same time.
“We have to encourage as many people as possible to have it,”
Mr Adams told the panel some sites faced constraints as they had to be approved for jabs.
However, Mr Rowlands said he’d take the bus station suggestion away to see what health chiefs thought of the idea.
Words: Alex Metcalfe, Local Democracy Reporter
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