THERE was a sense of optimism at Merseyside’s Covid-19 Mass Vaccination Centre in Saints' stadium today as some of the first patients in the country to be given a first dose returned for their second vaccination.

The centre at St Helens Rugby League ground is run by staff from St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

The venue opened its doors on Monday, January 18, giving first dose vaccinations to those on the Government’s priority list, those over the age of 80 and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable.

The stadium also houses a GP-led clinic for St Helens patients, which opened in December to the most vulnerable and has already rolled out the booster jabs.

Now vaccinating anyone over the age of 50, the Mass Vaccination Centre run by hospital staff will also welcome back thousands of patients to have their second jab in the coming weeks.

That means that those most vulnerable to Covid-19 across Merseyside will have greater protection in time for the easing of national lockdown restrictions.

David and Freda at the clinic

David and Freda at the clinic

Husband and wife, David and Freda Ward from Parr, attended together and had been eagerly awaiting their second vaccination.

David said: “I’ve looked forward to this, from getting the first one. I’ve waited and waited and I kept saying to Freda ‘when am I getting the second one, let’s get this done!’

“The set-up has been great, we walked in the first time, straight in, jabs and a few questions, out. With the second one it’s been the same, thank you all very much for your help.”

Pat Keeley, vaccination centre lead, said: “Our staff are so proud to be part of the fight back against Covid. We have seen the worst of the virus in our hospitals, but now through the vaccination programme we feel that we are really starting to see the benefits.

"Every vaccination is another person we can protect against this deadly virus.

"Watching people arrive this morning for their second vaccination, they really have a spring in their step, it’s just a really wonderful feeling to know that we are protecting our most vulnerable so quickly.”

In total, more than 100,000 first dose vaccinations have been given at Saints stadium, by staff at the Mass Vaccination Centre and local GPs.