A new large-scale vaccination centre has opened in Letchworth this morning, welcoming residents aged 65 and over and those who are shielding.

Alongside frontline health and social care workers, those patients are now being invited to book a COVID-19 vaccination at Old Grammar School in Broadway.

GPs have also this week started inviting a wider group of adults of all ages who have been identified by the government as having underlying health conditions which put them at greater risk of suffering serious illness if they catch coronavirus.

This cohort includes those newly-identified as being on the Shielded Patients List by the government’s 'QCOVID' tool, and adult carers who are either registered for Carers Allowance or are identified as a carer on their GP records.

The Comet: Walk-in vaccinations are now available in HertsWalk-in vaccinations are now available in Herts (Image: PA Wire/PA Images)

The Old Grammar School site - which was also formerly used by Da Vinci School pupils - is being run by local NHS organisation Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, drawing on its track record of delivering local immunisation programmes in the area.

HCT set up the centre with the support of North Herts District Council, Letchworth Heritage Foundation, Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue and volunteers.

Eligible patients can choose to receive their vaccination at the old Grammar School or at GP-led services, community pharmacies, and other large vaccination sites run by HCT.

These include the Roche Products Ltd site in Welwyn Garden City, Hemel Hempstead General Hospital and Robertson House in Stevenage.

HCT’s chief executive, Elliot Howard-Jones, said: “Everyone at Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust, NHDC and all our partner organisations has been working very hard in the lead up to opening this centre in Letchworth.

"My sincere thanks go to our project team and our school age immunisation team who are working around the clock to deliver this programme.

“If you are 65 and over – or if you are on the Shielded Patients List or a frontline health and social care worker - and you have been invited for a vaccine but haven’t booked yet, please make this week is the week that you book for your potentially life-saving vaccine.”

Eligible people can book an appointment at nhs.uk/covidvaccination, or by phoning 119 if they cannot use the internet.

Anyone who does not want to or cannot make it to one of these centres can still choose to wait to be contacted by their local GP-led service, which is currently prioritising those with underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk.

As the vaccination programme progresses, letters will also be going out this week to around half a million people in England who are aged 64 inviting them to book at one of around 300 vaccination centres or community pharmacy-led sites around the country.

People should only attend for a vaccination at if they have a confirmed appointment at that location.

Anyone attending for a vaccine appointment is asked to arrive at the time of their appointment to avoid the need to wait to be seen, and to help maintain social distancing.