Following the announcement by the Prime Minister that the COVID-19 vaccination programme will be accelerated, Dorset’s health and care system is preparing to step up its efforts.

The programme is already being delivered in over 30 locations across Dorset including primary care networks, community pharmacies and vaccination centres.

A new pop-up vaccination centre recently opened in Vespasian House, Dorchester – using office space usually occupied by NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

This is now offering appointments for both adults (via the National Booking System on weekdays only) and children (weekdays and weekends). We occasionally also move to other locations to provide a pop-up facility and at these times the centre is closed. The Dorchester centre is already extremely busy, and slots are being booked up quickly.

There continues to be very high demand for boosters as the number of eligible people increases – with around 30,000 boosters being given every week across the county. As of 30 November 2021, 218,221 (57.9%) of the current eligible population had received their booster.

In September, the King’s Park Vaccination Centre in Boscombe, was opened after the large centre hosted at the Bournemouth International Centre closed.

That centre is now vaccinating 7 days a week at King’s Park (except on AFC Bournemouth home match days), with appointments available for both adults and children at allocated times.

The centre is extremely busy, and appointments are being booked up very quickly. More slots continue to be added all the time, but if the National Booking System doesn’t show the local centres this means all the available slots are currently taken. Please do keep checking as this is frequently updated.

Currently the King’s Park centre is fully booked until Christmas, although slots can sometimes become available following cancellations. The best bet is to keep checking and book in advance.

Dr Andy Rutland, Dorset GP and clinical lead for the Dorset COVID-19 vaccination programme, said: “We are currently doing some detailed planning as we work through the requirements set out by the government and NHS England.

“It’s a significant undertaking to once more step up our roll-out to the levels we saw at the start of the vaccination programme and one of our biggest challenges is recruiting the right staff.

“We know that some people have struggled to get an appointment locally and we now need to pull out all the stops to expand the service. Please be patient while we set everything up – our staff are working incredibly hard and will continue to do their best for the people of Dorset.

“It has been a monumental effort to get the clinic set up at Vespasian House so quickly and I’d like to thank everyone involved including our local healthcare partners and the Vespasian House landlords, Redtale Holdings Limited.”

Anyone who has experience of vaccinating can apply to be part of the biggest vaccination programme in history at: https://joinourdorset.nhs.uk/vaccinators/. More volunteers are also needed at the Dorchester centre – contact the Volunteer Centre Dorset to find out more.