New COVID-19 vaccination centre opens in Harlow

Tuesday 26 January 

Essex and Hertfordshire residents aged 75 and over are amongst those being invited to book a coronavirus vaccination at Harlow Leisurezone, one 32 new NHS vaccination centres that open this week in England.

The first seven large-scale centres, which can vaccinate thousands of people a week, opened two weeks ago with another ten opening last week. The latest openings mean there will be a network of almost 50 across the country.

People aged 75 and over are being invited to book a vaccination at these centres or at one of more than 70 pharmacy services now operating across the country. If someone cannot or does not want to travel to a vaccination centre, they can still wait to have their vaccination at a local GP service or hospital hub. As well as the vaccination centres and pharmacy vaccination services, there are now more than 1,000 GP services and over 250 hospital sites offering vaccinations in England.

Health and social care staff working nearby will also be able to receive their vaccination at Harlow Leisurezone.

The vaccination centre at Harlow Leisurezone is being run by Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT), drawing on its proven track record of delivering local immunisation programmes in the area. HCT has set the centre up with the support of West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, Harlow Council, the Essex Local Resilience Forum and local volunteers.

HCT’s Director of Nursing and Quality, Sarah Browne, said: “Everyone at HCT and in our partner organisations has been working very hard in the lead up to opening the centre today. We can now welcome local people in the prioritised age groups with confirmed appointments to receive their vaccine, along with health and social care workers from across our area. This represents a big step forward in helping to beat the COVID-19 pandemic. My sincere thanks go to our project team and our school age immunisation team who are working around the clock to deliver this programme.”

Dr Rob Gerlis, Harlow GP and Chair of West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The launch of Harlow Leisurezone as a vaccination centre is great news for people across West Essex and the surrounding area. We now have seven sites – five GP-led sites, one at Princess Alexandra Hospital and now Harlow Leisurezone - where patients and health and care staff can be vaccinated. As time goes on, people will have greater choice of where to be vaccinated.

“We would like to say a big thank you to all NHS staff, volunteers and partners who have worked so hard, and continue to work hard, to set up these sites and ensure they run smoothly.”

Raymond Spicer, 75, was among the first to be vaccinated at Harlow’s Leisurezone which was opened earlier this week.

He had travelled just minutes to get his jab, with his daughter Louise who explained Raymond has been isolating throughout the pandemic due to receiving treatment for a rare form of blood cancer.

He said getting the, simple and quick inoculation, would give them peace of mind in coming weeks and he hoped his daughter, his registered carer, would also receive hers soon.

“I found the experience very quick and easy and I am just very glad I have had the first one now.”

Ruth MacKay, 79, of Harlow said: “I am very pleased and feel really encouraged to have had my vaccine.

“I can’t understand why people don’t want to have it. It’s wonderful here at the Leisurezone, so well organised.”

Ruth’s husband Brian, 85, had his vaccination at Lister Medical Centre in Harlow several weeks ago.

Baden Clegg, 77, had come from Epping with his wife, Claire, who was also receiving her vaccine.

Claire, 77, said: “I can’t explain how important it was for us to get the vaccine.

“Life has been put on hold and we are just so fed up with just seeing the grandchildren on Zoom all the time. We miss them very much.

“Our younger son lives with us and he had Covid over Christmas. It was very difficult managing that situation so the vaccinations should make things easier. We are hoping to get our lives back.”

Baden said he would urge everyone to have the vaccine when invited to.

“We have the flu one every winter and so it was just like having an extra one of those.

“I barely knew they had done it,” said Baden.

He explained the couple’s son had been very unwell after contracting Coronavirus before Christmas and urged people to get vaccinated when they could.

Thousands of people have already received their vaccines across west Essex as part of the programme, beginning with the over 80s late last year. Advice to continue washing your hands, keeping your distance and covering your face where possible remains, even if you have been vaccinated.

People should only attend for a vaccination at Harlow Leisurezone if they have received a letter inviting them to book a vaccination and have already booked an appointment. Anyone attending for a vaccine appointment at the Leisurezone is asked to arrive just before the time of their appointment to avoid the need to wait to be seen and to help us maintain social distancing at the vaccination centre.