Published: 12:28, 28 January 2021
| Updated: 14:52, 28 January 2021
A hospital will increase its vaccination capacity to allow the public to receive jabs there, it has been confirmed.
Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham is set to expand and provide vaccination clinics for members of the public at weekends, KentOnline understands.
The hospital is currently a storage hub for the Pfizer vaccine and administering jabs to hospital trust staff and the most vulnerable patients coming to or staying in the hospital.
Separate plans are still being developed to open a large-scale vaccination hub in Medway with discussions taking place between NHS officials and Medway Council.
The hospital expansion will help increase vaccination capacity in the Towns and is expected to start next month. It has already vaccinated more than 5,000 staff and patients.
All appointments will continue to follow the national priority programme with the most vulnerable people in the community offered the vaccine first.
KentOnline understands the hospital will be offering hundreds of appointments at weekends when the centre is up and running but is not the mass centre for the Towns confirmed by the Prime Minister in parliament yesterday.
Boris Johnson said the government intends to open a mass centre in Medway Towns following a question from Gillingham and Rainham MP Rehman Chishti.
It follows mounting calls from fellow MP Kelly Tolhurst, who has been pressing the NHS for details and confirmation about a large-scale vaccination centre.
Ms Tolhurst met with leading NHS officials on Wednesday to discuss vaccine roll out across her Rochester and Strood constituency and throughout Medway.
In a statement following the meeting, Ms Tolhurst said: "NHS South East and the CCG are working with Medway Hospital to look at extending their vaccination programme for more than the staff and patients and opening it up for the wider community which is great news going forward.
"The Regional Director at NHS South East was also very keen to work with Medway Council and our Public Health Director to establish a large scale vaccination hub."
Ms Tolhurst said it had been "a busy week" which has seen many developments and progress made on opening more vaccine sites.
"I am far more confident about the progress of the roll out in the constituency," she added.
"There is still a lot of residents to be given the jab, but it’s far better than I had thought."
Vaccinations have started at the Wainscott surgery for patients on the Hoo Peninsula today after major concerns about vulnerable members of the community and the area being the last in Kent to see a centre approved.
Six centres are now open in Medway but Ms Tolhurst said a second for the Peninsula is expected to be approved in the next week.
Two centres being run by pharmacies have been approved in Medway and are set to start vaccinating on February 4, the MP confirmed.
Cliffe Woods Community Hall will be run by the Lawsat Pharmacy with patients contacted by the NHS able to use the national booking system to pick an appointment.
"There is still a lot of residents to be given the jab, but it’s far better than I had thought..."
Boots Pharmacy located in the Pentagon Shopping Centre in Chatham town centre will also open for patients depending on their priority group.
Ms Tolhurst added: "Housebound and independent living residents will be vaccinated in their homes or supported/assisted living homes.
"This is an absolute priority for our PCNs and CCG across Medway.
"I know many residents and friends are concerned but I can assure you that the pace of this will pick up over the next week as the roving teams get out across the patch supported by GPs, paramedics and nurses."