Harrogate's Great Yorkshire Showground set to remain as Covid vaccine site into New Year
The Covid vaccination site at Harrogate's Great Yorkshire Showground looks set to remain open into the New Year as the booster programme is ramped up in response to the Omicron variant.
NHS officials are in talks with the Yorkshire Event Centre which delivered around 1,300 jabs when it reopened as a vaccine site on Monday.
The site initially planned to close on 22 December, but it now looks set to remain open for longer after the government announced an extension to the booster programme with all over-18s set to be offered a third jab by the end of January.
Heather Parry, managing director of the Yorkshire Event Centre, said talks with the NHS had been positive and that it was now "finalising details" for an extension of the site.
She said: “We are proud to have worked with the NHS throughout the pandemic and we will continue to support them.
"Thanks to the vital work they are doing here on the Great Yorkshire Showground, thousands of local people have received their first and second jabs and now their booster jabs in this crucial drive to keep the nation safe from Covid-19.
"We are finalising details with the NHS about continuing to offer a vaccination centre here in the New Year and will work with them to ensure the public are updated as soon as possible."
Plan B: Harrogate faces up to impact and costs of new Covid restrictions announced by Boris JohnsonThe showground was used as a vaccine site earlier in the pandemic and has set an aim of delivering 20,000 jabs before 22 December.
But if an extension is agreed, it is likely to surpass that target by some distance as all adults are offered a third dose.
Vaccines are being offered by age groups with priority given to older adults and those in at-risk groups, with over-40s currently being invited forward.
The government announced the extension of boosters to all over-18s in response to the emergence of the Omicron variant which also prompted the return of rules on face masks in most public places, Covid passes for some venues and work from home guidance.
It is unclear whether the variant can cause more serious illness and it will take time for its true threat to be assessed as cases are monitored across the world.
The NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group is leading on the vaccine rollout in the area and said the booster programme had so far been a success thanks to the "monumental effort from GP practises, local pharmacies, staff and volunteers".
Almost 42% of eligible patients across the county have had their booster dose, compared with 40% in the Harrogate district and an England average of 32%.
A CCG spokesperson said: "Vaccinations will be done in an orderly way, so those with higher vulnerabilities to Covid will be invited to book their boosters sooner than those who are less at risk.
"People should not contact their GP practice – the NHS will let people know when it's their turn to come forward."
By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter