DORSET’S largest vaccination clinic is set to be used for catch-up school immunisations alongside the Covid vaccine programme.

The Bournemouth International Centre (BIC) has been operating as a Covid vaccination centre since January, with capacity to vaccinate 9,000 people a week.

It is now being readied to deliver vaccinations for school children.

Dorset Healthcare’s school age immunisation team (SAIS) is using the bespoke facilities to catch up on HPV (Human Papillovirus) immunisations that were delayed last year due to the pandemic and school closures.

Kate Harvey, service director for children, young people and families at Dorset Healthcare, said: “It makes perfect sense to use this facility, which is specifically set up for vaccinations, to help us deliver school immunisations in periods where it is not fully booked for Covid-19 vaccinations.

“It’s wonderful to know that multiple generations will be able to receive a vaccination of one type or another at the centre.”

The team has contacted schools to offer parents appointments for their children at the BIC, giving flexibility on when and where they can have their vaccination and an opportunity to book in before schools return on Monday, March 8.

School immunisation clinics will run at the centre until Sunday March 7.

People are reminded not to attend the centre unless they have an appointment.

Those eligible for Covid-19 vaccinations, including everyone over 60, can still book through the national booking system or following invitation by their local GP.

The vaccination centre at the BIC opened on January 18 and officials stated it would vaccinate 1,300 people a day at capacity.

Anna Chainey, Covid-19 service manager at the Dorset Healthcare Trust, said: “People have been going above and beyond to make this happen. This is the positive end of Covid.

“I feel really excited about this, it feels very real. It’s really exciting to be part of this and I feel privileged to be able to do this for our population in Dorset.”

In a somewhat fitting coincidence, the first non-healthcare worker to receive their jab was a retired NHS nurse.

Southbourne resident Valentyna Dubova, 83, was joined at the town centre venue by her son George who spoke on her behalf.

He told the Daily Echo: “My mother knew it was very important for her to come and get her jab today.

“Covid has caused a lot of problems for many people, so she knew she had to get vaccinated.

“It has been very organised today and the staff are all very helpful.”