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vale networkGPs in Gillingham hope that the local vaccination campaign could be switched to a location in the town once the new Oxford University/AstraZeneca arrives for use in the area.

Currently the vaccination campaign, which starts on Saturday 9 January by appointment, will take place in Sturminster Newton, using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

But once the Oxford version, which does not need to be stored at very low temperatures, is available the campaign might take place in Gillingham for local residents.

‘We certainly hope so,’ said the Karen Rhys of the The Vale Network which works across the Gillingham Medical Practice and the Blackmore Vale Partnership covering Shaftesbury and Sturminster Newton. ‘We are looking to set up at The Olive Bowl, where we held our flu clinics last September as it worked so well.’

Karen Rhys explained that for the initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine rollout out, only one site was allowed for each Primary Care Network (PCN) – which covers Gillingham, Shaftesbury and Sturminster – and Sturminster was chosen as the location. ‘It was an NHS England decision,’ she said.

Doctors hope the Oxford vaccine will arrive ‘fairly imminently’.

‘As with the Pfizer- BioNTech vaccine, it will go to hospitals first for a few days, and then be distributed to the Primary Care Network Sites,’ said Karen Rhys.

She said local medical practices would be in contact with local care homes this week to ‘commence arrangements’ over vaccination with the Oxford vaccine and preparations were being made for housebound patients too.

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