THE coronavirus vaccine is now being offered in Bridport as part of a Dorset-wide roll out.

Bridport Medical Centre is among six Dorset sites chosen to deliver the vaccinations to priority groups - including people aged over 80 and care home workers - as the NHS vaccination scheme is rolled out across the county.

Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said GPs and other primary care staff worked "around-the-clock" and throughout the weekend so that the scheme could start yesterday.

Residents will be contacted by the NHS when it is their turn - people are being urged not to contact their GP practice, local hospital, or other local NHS services.

Priority groups are being identified nationally by the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

The six Dorset sites currently offering the vaccine are:

n Bridport Medical Centre

n Weymouth Community Hospital

n Stour Surgery (serving Christchurch)

n Talbot Medical Centre (north Bournemouth)

n Heatherview Medical Centre

n St Leonards Hospital (for Wimborne and Ferndown and Crane Valley)

Further Dorset sites will be added throughout December and the coming months.

Dr Karen Kirkham, GP, Clinical lead for the Dorset Covid-19 vaccination programme, and Assistant Clinical Director of NHS Dorset CCG, said the vaccination scheme would be "a marathon, rather than a sprint."

She said: “As a local GP in Dorset I’m so proud of the huge local effort that has been made locally to deliver this next phase of the vaccination programme.

“I’d like to say a personal thank you to all of the local GPs, nurses, pharmacists, support and logistical staff, other primary care staff, and those in the wider health and social care system who have been working round the clock to make it happen.

“Primary care networks have been working rapidly to redesign their sites and put in place safe processes to meet the tough logistical challenges of offering the vaccination.

“This is very much going to be a marathon, rather than a sprint, and we’d like to ask for the continued help of the public to help us as we continue the roll-out of the vaccination programme for the people of Dorset."

Urging residents to be patient, Dr Kirkham added: "The NHS will let you know when it's your turn to have the vaccine. It's important not to contact the NHS for a vaccination before then. If you can’t make an appointment let us know as soon as possible and we can then offer the slot to someone else. You will be called again.”

Sam Crowe, Director of Public Health for Dorset and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Councils, said: “It’s great to see this next phase of the Covid-19 vaccination programme getting underway in Dorset. With such a huge programme, it is going to take time to reach everybody and offer enough protection against the virus, so in the meantime it’s really important that we continue to follow the rules to prevent transmission.

"Please only meet people from other households outdoors and keep washing your hands regularly, wearing a face covering and maintaining your distance from others.

“We also need to remain vigilant for any symptoms of Covid-19 – a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss or change of taste or smell. Please self-isolate immediately and book a test if you have any of these, and remain at home with your household until you get your results back.”

Meanwhile residents are still being urged to follow guidance to control the spread of the virus and save lives.

Further information on the vaccine is available via the national NHS website.