The centre at Gainsborough Sports Centre in Ipswich is one of 30 new centres opening nationally this week and one of the first in the East of England as the vaccination programme accelerates across the region.
The centre can vaccinate thousands of people each week and will be giving the jab to people aged 70 and over who have received a letter inviting them to attend, along with health and care staff.
It offers an additional option for people to the hospital hubs and GP-led vaccination services already offering coronavirus vaccinations across Suffolk and north east Essex and more will be going live in the next few weeks.
Dr Ed Garratt, Executive Lead for the Suffolk and North East Essex Integrated Care System, said: “I am delighted that we are able to launch our vaccination centre at Gainsborough Sports Centre today.
“A huge amount of planning has gone into getting the centre ready, and it will make an invaluable contribution to our efforts to administer the vaccine to the population of Suffolk as safely and swiftly as possible.
“Together with our existing primary care hubs, and the community pharmacies that have recently come on board, the Gainsborough vaccination centre will enable us to accelerate the rate at which we are able to protect our local population from the virus.”
Nigel Leonard, Executive Director of Strategy and Transformation at Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT), which is coordinating the vaccination centres across Suffolk and North East Essex and Mid and South Essex said: “We know how important the opening of this new large scale vaccination centre will be to the people of Suffolk as we accelerate vaccinations in the county in our continued fight against COVID-19.
"I would like to thank my NHS colleagues, partners and everyone involved who’ve worked incredibly hard to open this centre so that we can help protect those most at risk as quickly as possible.”
Pam Sabine, Director at EPUT and operational director for the coronavirus vaccination programme in Suffolk and North East Essex, said: “It has been a heart-warming experience to be part of this unprecedented vaccination programme and witness the huge enthusiasm and commitment of those who’ve come forward to join the programme.
“We are looking forward to vaccinating our community and offering them protection against the virus, but we do ask everyone please only attend the centre if you have an appointment and turn up no earlier than five minutes before your slot to avoid queues and help keep everyone safe.”
The NHS is again urging people: please don’t contact the NHS to seek a vaccine, we will contact you. When you are contacted, please ensure you attend your appointment. Whether you have had a vaccine or not, please continue to follow all national guidance to control the virus and help save lives, stay at home and remember: ‘hands, face, space’.
Letters have been sent out in the last few days to people aged 70 and over who live in the vicinity of the new centre, inviting them to book an appointment through the national booking service online or over the phone.
If this is not convenient, people can wait to receive an appointment more locally at a GP-led service. If an appointment has already been offered by a GP, residents can choose which appointment suits them best.