Covid: Harrogate district vaccine centres to close as pandemic response is scaled back

Health officials have revealed plans to close Harrogate's vaccination centres as the district's pandemic response is scaled back in the move towards living with Covid.

By Jacob Webster
Friday, 18th February 2022, 4:31 pm
Updated Friday, 18th February 2022, 4:32 pm
Photo: Inside the vaccination centre at Harrogate's Great Yorkshire Showground.
Photo: Inside the vaccination centre at Harrogate's Great Yorkshire Showground.

The vaccine site at the Great Yorkshire Showground will continue delivering jabs until "at least the middle of March," the NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said.

The CCG added that officials were "looking at future provision beyond this date, with arrangements to be confirmed soon".

Knaresborough's vaccination centre at the Chain Lane Community Hub will also close next month, while the vaccine site at Ripon Racecourse will deliver its final jabs this weekend.

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All three sites were stepped up for the booster rollout in December and were kept in use as the Omicron variant fuelled a record surge in infections.

The CCG said the sites have played a key role in achieving "phenomenal" vaccine coverage across Harrogate, with 70% of the district's population now having received a booster.

In other positive figures, death, hospitalisation and infection rates are all falling nationally as the government prepares to set out its “living with Covid” strategy.

In the biggest step yet towards a post-pandemic life, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is next week expected to announce that rules mandating people to isolate when they have the virus are to be scrapped, as well as free testing.

Mr Johnson told MPs earlier this month that he hoped the changes could come into effect before the original planned date of 24 March, as long as “positive trends” in the figures continue.

However, this has taken some health officials by surprise - as infection levels are still high and it's unclear what the changes will do to the spread of the virus.

The NHS Confederation - which represents all the organisations making up the NHS - has called for isolation and free testing to remain due to uncertainties over future strains and how much long-term protection vaccines provide.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the confederation, said: "Hospital admissions and deaths linked to coronavirus continue to fall nationally and this is allowing the NHS to bring back many routine services that it was asked to de-prioritise during the peaks of the pandemic, including some non-urgent elective procedures.

"With the success of the vaccine and new Covid treatments, this offers real hope as we learn to live with the virus.

"But the government cannot wave a magic wand and pretend the threat has disappeared entirely."

The latest Covid figures for Harrogate show the district's weekly infection continues to fall and is now at its lowest level since mid-December, at 635 cases per 100,000 people.

The latest figure has fallen by more than two thirds since it reached record levels at 1,905 at the start of January.

However, it is still above the current England and North Yorkshire averages of 505 and 475.

Meanwhile, Harrogate hospital currently has 23 Covid-positive, with just one patient primarily receiving treatment for the virus.

The last time the hospital reported a Covid-related death was on 5 February, with the hospital's death toll since the pandemic began remaining at 221.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter