A DRIVE through flu vaccination station is being set up to try and reduce the risk of a flu outbreak this winter.

Darlington Primary Care Network (PCN) is setting up the drive to get people vaccinated as part of efforts to protect the NHS during the winter.

There will be a drive through vaccination station at the Northern Echo Arena as well as a “walk through” service at St Cuthbert’s Church Hall for anyone eligible for a free jab.

A spokesperson for the PCN, which consists of all 11 GP practices in Darlington, said: “This year the influenza vaccination is more important than ever. We need to reduce the risk of a flu outbreak to protect NHS services and keep our patients safe.

“In the context of Covid-19 we have a huge challenge to deliver this service effectively, safely and quickly.”

A flu project team is working with Public Health, the local prescribing team and the NHSE Time For Care team to develop the service, which is scheduled to start on September 28.

Ptients will be able to book appointments when the vaccines arrive at practices, which is likely to be by mid September.The PCN has been supported by EE, which is providing internet, the Esh Group, which is doing ground works and Darlington Cares, which is supplying volunteer marshals.Appointments will be available through the NHS App, or by calling a patient’s GP practice following an invite, which will be sent out shortly.

Services will be provided by appointment only to ensure social distancing .Pharmacies will also be providing vaccinations as usual for those not eligible for the free jab, as well as those who are.Anyone who is shielding is advised to use the drive through service. Anyone who is shielding and does not have a car should discuss it with their practice.

A team will also be visiting care homes while visits can also be arranged for those who are housebound.

A PCN spokerperson added: “We understand that some of our patients may find this change uncomfortable. We believe this is the safest way we could deliver the flu programme this year and the safety and wellbeing of our patients and staff is our main priority. ”

For more information visit darlingtonpcn.co.uk/flu_service_2020/