The NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Service has now opened in Newark and Sherwood.

Newark and Sherwood District Council and health bosses are asking the public to wait until they have received a letter before contacting the NHS, their GP or local hospital.

The District Council has been working with colleagues across the local health and care system to prepare for the opening of the national vaccination programme at the Joe Hallam Suite at Newark Showground.

The site opened on 16 January 2021. Recipients of the vaccine will be called forward in priority order as set out by the Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The NHS is sending out letters with information on how to make an appointment to eligible people in due course and vaccines will be by appointment only. First priority at the site is for those over the age of 80 and frontline health and social care workers.

The only way to get an appointment and the vaccine is to follow the instructions in the letter. Once residents have received a letter, they are advised to book an appointment as soon as possible.

Among the first to receive a vaccination at the new site were ex-veterans Tony Parker, aged 81, and his wife Beryl Parker, aged 82, who both live in Newark. Having met each other in Singapore while serving for the RAF, the Parkers have been married for more than 60 years and have spent the majority of the pandemic shielding together. Mr Parker commented: "We are pleased to be receiving the vaccination and are looking forward to being able to see our family safely again, spending time with them is what it's all about."

Councillor David Lloyd, Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: "While we are pleased that the vaccination service has now opened in Newark and Sherwood, there is a priority system in place and for this to work effectively, residents must be patient and wait until it's their turn and should not contact us or the NHS directly.

"This is the largest immunisation programme in NHS history and a lot of planning has gone into the opening of the centre and now it has arrived, it is absolutely crucial that priority is given to those most at risk of coronavirus: the over 80s and our health and social workers. The number of cases are still worrying and we are in a National Lockdown, so we must do everything we can to protect our more vulnerable residents.

"If you have received a letter please make sure that you book an appointment as soon as possible. If you know someone who has received a letter, who may not be able to book on themselves, help them to make an appointment so they can be protected from COVID-19 and we can hopefully return to a normal way of life as quickly as possible."

Dr Thilan Bartholomeuz, GP and Clinical Lead for the Mid-Nottinghamshire Integrated Care Partnership, said: "The roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination programme is a huge task and a tremendous amount of work is going into it at a local and national level. The opening of the local vaccination service in Newark today is another significant step in the process.

"It's really important we continue to prioritise those most at risk first and soon all of those over the age of 80 across our city and county will have received a letter inviting them for a COVID-19 vaccine.

"In the meantime, the advice remains the same. Please be patient and protect the NHS by following the guidance in place to help control the virus and save lives. When you do receive a letter from the NHS inviting you for a vaccine, please make your appointment as quickly as possible."

The NHS is maximising resilience and coverage across Nottinghamshire by initially having fewer, larger sites delivering the vaccine rather than smaller GP practices delivering these alone. This will evolve and change over time following the announcement that GPs will be able to vaccinate within their own practices. This will give people more options over the next few weeks as the vaccination programme continues.

It's important that everyone continues to follow the national guidance, while remembering to wash their hands, wear a face covering and maintain social distancing.

Key information for the public:
• please don't contact the NHS for a vaccine, they will contact you
• when they do contact you, please attend your booked appointments
• please continue to follow all the guidance to control the virus and save lives

For more information about the COVID-19 vaccination, please click here.