Elderly queue in cold as mass vaccine centre opens its doors in Stevenage

people queueing outside

One man says people were asked to queue for an hour outside while waiting for their vaccine at Robertson House, Stevenage. - Credit: Supplied

Eager elderly people queued outside Stevenage's new vaccine hub in winter temperatures for more than an hour while waiting for their jabs today.

The mass vaccine centre at Robertson House, one of seven mass vaccination sites in the UK, opened earlier this morning and is part of a town-wide effort that aims to deliver hundreds of vaccinations per day.

Hertfordshire residents aged 80 and over are among those being invited to book a coronavirus vaccination, as well as those from as far as a 45-minute drive away.

READ MORE: Mass vaccine centre opening marks 'big step forward' in beating COVID-19

But as the first day of mass inoculation began in the town, queues also started to mount as eager residents arrived to receive their jabs.

People wait to receive their Covid-19 vaccine at the NHS vaccine centre that has been set up at Robe

People wait to receive their Covid-19 vaccine at the NHS vaccine centre that has been set up at Robertson House in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. The centre is one of the seven mass vaccination centres now opened to the general public as the government continues to ramp up the vaccination programme against Covid-19. - Credit: PA

One man, who is aged 80 and wanted to remain anonymous, was in the queue at Robertson House and says they were waiting for at least 60 minutes before they could get inside.


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After driving for more than an hour, he arrived at 12.30pm - five minutes before the time stated on his letter - and said the queue was "about 100 strong" by his estimation. 

People wait to receive their Covid-19 vaccine at the NHS vaccine centre that has been set up at Robe

Robertson House is one of the seven mass vaccination centres now opened to the general public as the government continues to ramp up the vaccination programme against Covid-19. - Credit: PA

By 1.45pm, he had received the first of his two Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 injections.

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Many elderly people, including those in wheelchairs, were waiting in temperatures of about 6°C. For some, this was the first time they could leave their houses with a sense excitement since March.

"It was poorly organised, and parking was a bit heavy, but at the end of the day I'm glad I got my jab," the man added.

Once inside, there was nothing but praise for the vaccination centre. 

Deryck Rhodes, 88 and from Hartford, said: "Today is a very special day. Having the vaccination means we can eventually return to some degree of normality.

man receives covid-19 vaccination

Deryck Rhodes, 88 from Hartford, receives his vaccination at Stevenage's Robertson House. - Credit: Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust

"Considering this was the first day that the vaccination centre opened here at Robertson House, I really can’t complain. This represents an incredible undertaking and gives me definitely peace of mind. It would be regrettable if other elderly people like myself don’t take this opportunity to get vaccinated.”  

Take a look inside Robertson House here.

A spokesman for Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust said: "We regret that people had to wait today. The uptake for the COVID-19 vaccination was considerable, which we were delighted about.

"New processes have been put in place to reduce the time that people have to wait, and these are already working."

HCT has also confirmed that they have tripled the number of inoculation booths from four to 12, creating a much quicker and streamlined process.

The NHS East and North Herts Clinical Commissioning Group is also asking those arriving for their vaccination to please not arrive ahead of schedule as this could cause queues.

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