Eligible Darlington residents are being urged to get their flu vaccinations, ahead of the predicted “bad flu season”, at one of several vaccination hubs operating in the town from the beginning of October.

GP practices will start contacting eligible patients directly from this week with details of how and where they can book their appointments.

This will include details of the town’s new flu vaccination hub at The Old Exchange on Barnard Street, which will be offering both flu vaccinations and COVID boosters from the beginning of October.

Those eligible to receive the flu vaccine include anyone over the age of 50, residents in care homes or other long-stay care facilities, pregnant women, front-line health and social care workers, carers and personal assistants for someone with a Personal Health Budget and people of any age in a clinical risk group.

Anyone in Darlington who is eligible for either their flu or COVID booster vaccination can book their appointments at The Old Exchange, which will be managed by the same team who provided COVID vaccinations at Feethams House earlier this year.

People who book an appointment for their flu vaccination at the new site will also be offered their COVID vaccine booster at the same time, but only if it has been a minimum of six months since their second dose.

If they chose to have both vaccinations at the same appointment, the vaccinations will be administered into an arm each.

Dr Amanda Riley, Clinical Director of the Darlington Primary Care Network and Chief Executive of Primary Healthcare Darlington, said: “This year, it is more important than ever that we protect ourselves and each other by getting a flu jab, ahead of what we’re predicting to be a particularly bad flu season.

“For those who are also eligible to get their COVID booster at the same time as their flu vaccination, please be assured that it is perfectly safe to have both at the same time.

“By getting your flu and COVID booster vaccines together, you won’t have to worry about booking and managing two appointments at separate venues.

“For older and clinically vulnerable residents, getting both doses at the same appointment is especially convenient. It couldn’t be quicker or easier to protect yourself and those around you from becoming seriously ill with flu or COVID this winter.”

Anyone who is eligible and registered with a GP in Darlington can book their appointments at The Old Exchange online via the link shared in the invitation text message sent by their GP practice. Alternatively, patients who do not have access to the internet can book by phoning 01325 238235.

Booster appointments will also be available to book in Darlington at participating community pharmacies and vaccination centres, such as Cockerton Pharmacy and the Darlington Arena, via the national online booking service and by phoning 119.

(The new vaccination site at The Old Exchange will be signposted along pedestrian routes, including from nearby bus stops.)