Covid-19 booster Newcastle: Inside the Byker vaccination centre dishing out jabs every 90 seconds

There is a nationwide drive for Covid-19 booster vaccines

With Christmas fast approaching and the Omicron variant rampant, many people in Newcastle are looking for their walk-in Covid-19 booster vaccine.

The NHS online vaccine booking system is now offering booster jabs to all over the age of 18 in the country, but the system has struggled under high demand with long waiting times and occasional crashes.

With so many people trying to book their booster, the Government's latest vaccination drive seems to be working, no doubt aided by the passing of extra Covid-19 restrictions on Tuesday evening - members of the public must now show a Covid passport to enter certain events and venues.

However, there is a way to get the booster without going through the NHS booking system.

The health service is operating a number of walk-ins and pop up services in and around Newcastle.

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The NHS has a specific part of their website dedicated to walk-in services which allow users to find one nearest to them.

These walk-in centres can be vaccination centres, pharmacies or even vaccination buses.

On Wednesday I headed down to the Covid-19 vaccination bus that had pulled up outside East End Pool in Byker.

The back of the queue at around 1:40 pm

Having seen the dramatic queues snaking around Grainger Market on Monday, I approached the pool with trepidation that I could be there for hours.

However, there were so few people around that I began to think I might be in the wrong place altogether.

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Eventually, I found the big blue Covid-19 vaccination bus and was pointed to the back of the queue by a group of friendly marshals, who asked if it had been three months since my second vaccination.

At that point I counted about 40 people ahead of me in the line and, about 10 minutes later, there were a further 10 newcomers behind me.

The atmosphere at the queue was very relaxed with no one showing any signs of impatience or competition to push forward in the line.

Vaccines were administered on the bus

Whilst the queue did seem to move fairly slowly, after about an hour I was at the front and waiting to board the bus which means staff were vaccinating more than one person every two minutes.

Before it was my turn I chatted briefly with one of the marshals who had been at his post since lunchtime.

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He said the bus had vaccinated approximately 50 people in that time and didn't have the capacity to take on many more.

Indeed, as I looked around, I saw another marshal counting the number of people in the line and warning other marshals that there were only five vaccines left.

That happened at around 2:30 pm, so despite the walk-in bus being open until 5 pm, anyone arriving after that would have been turned away.

The supply of vaccines was not endless

I hadn't been on one of the swanky Covid-19 vaccination buses yet so was intrigued by what was inside.

At the start, I spent a few minutes giving personal details to a member of staff who ran through the basic vaccination info.

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When a space became available, I moved further up in the bus where two nurses were waiting to administer the vaccine, which was quick and painless.

After that, there was a 15-minute wait in a room behind the bus, after which I was free to go.

All in all, I had left the house, got the booster vaccine and made it home in about an hour and 45 minutes.

The location of the bus changes frequently, so it's best to stay up to date with the NHS social media channels and, if you're looking for a walk-in site, by checking the dedicated pages.