New 'pop up' vaccination van pilot starts in Northumberland to access hard to reach communities

People in Northumberland are soon to benefit from new pop-up COVID-19 vaccination clinics being piloted this week.

NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) have set up a 'roving vaccination service' to safely transport vaccines to people in the most rural parts of Northumberland as well as minority groups including Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, those affected by homelessness and residents from a BAME background.

A transit van has been specifically modified and customised to travel around the remote communities and hard to reach groups, making sure they're not left behind in the vaccination programme.

Inside the roving vaccine van. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Richard Hay, Head of Planning and Operations at the CCG said "We understand the uniqueness of Northumberland and we've had to overcome some big challenges with this roll-out. For example, the distance people have been expected to travel to attend a large vaccination centre. 

"The introduction of the Roving Vaccination Service will make sure no-one is left behind. It's a fantastic example of our local GPs working in collaboration across the county to deliver innovative services for the benefit of residents. 

"Once we have today's pilot clinic at Bellingham we will then make plans for other communities which could benefit from pop-up clinics. We must stress that this service is still in the early stages of development and is not a 'walk-in' service, all patients being vaccinated by the Roving Vaccination Service will continue to be invited to attend a clinic when it is their turn. We will continue to keep Northumberland residents fully updated as things progress."

The van will travel to different areas and set up pop-up clinics within communities. The first stop on the van's journey was Bellingham fire station, hoping to make it easier for people living in the more rural areas of Northumberland to get vaccinated.

Pop-up clinic Bellingham fire station. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Residents are being reminded not to contact their GP practice to seek a vaccination appointment from their practice or the Roving Vaccination Service. Practices will contact people when it is the right time - no one will be missed. People are also being reminded not to turn up too early for their appointments.