Thousands of Covid jabs will be given at King’s Lynn Corn Exchange in the coming weeks after the historic venue became the county’s second mass vaccination centre.
The NHS is undertaking its biggest-ever vaccination programme and the race is on to protect the most vulnerable from the virus.
Following months of discussion behind the scenes, the Lynn centre opened on Monday and is already playing a key role in accelerating the delivery of the life-saving jab in Norfolk.
A third centre in Attleborough launched on Wednesday and another in North Walsham is set to open tomorrow (Saturday), further boosting the work of the first centre in Norwich.
NHS staff in Lynn are being supported by army and RAF personnel and St John Ambulance volunteers, with a strict queuing system in place.
Invitations are being sent out via the national booking service and a steady stream of grateful recipients have been given the vaccination in the Corn Exchange auditorium so far.
One said on Monday: “There’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
David Vickers, medical director at Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust, which is co-ordinating delivery of the large vaccination centres across Norfolk and Waveney, said: “The centres are capable of delivering thousands of vaccines in the coming weeks and provide a major boost to our plans to offer protection to those who would benefit most as quickly as possible.
“We’d like to say an enormous thank you to our amazing staff and volunteers for their incredible hard work.”
Dr Vickers said further sites would be coming soon and thanked West Norfolk Council and Alive West Norfolk for allowing the use of the Corn Exchange.
Stuart Dark, cabinet member for environmental services and public protection at the borough council, said: “We have been working behind the scenes with the NHS for many months to help identify sites, ensure any venues we could offer met all the criteria, and have then gone through the operational planning process with them to ensure that once they open everything will run smoothly.
“Coming on the back of the news that our efforts to lobby for a venue in Downham Market have been acknowledged, we are delighted that after months of having to keep the information confidential, we are finally able to confirm that a large scale vaccination centre will be open serving the central area of the borough.”
Council chief executive Lorraine Gore said vaccination teams had been given parking permits and free spaces were being provided to anyone attending an appointment.
“Throughout this pandemic we have been working hard for our communities, and that has included ensuring that the area is well served when it comes to vaccination centres,” Mrs Gore added.
“I am pleased that this site is now open, in addition to the QEH vaccination hub and the four primary care network venues that are already up and running. This will help ensure the vaccination programme is rolled out quickly and effectively in this area.
“We have worked with the NHS team on operational matters to ensure that the large-scale vaccination site could get up and running as soon as possible. Our aim, in support of our NHS colleagues, is to make it as easy as possible for people to get in, get parked, get the vaccination and then leave.”
People must wait for an appointment before attending.