"Bear with us": Sheffield health officials reassure residents that they will be able to get vaccinated at Arena
Health officials have reassured Sheffield residents that there is plenty of capacity for everybody to be vaccinated at the Sheffield Arena vaccination centre.
This comes after people in the city who were invited to book their vaccinations at the Arena raised concerns when they tried to do so but were told there were no slots available, and to try Wakefield, Leeds or Bradford instead.
Now, a spokesperson for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the Arena vaccination centre, has explained that people do not need to worry, and why on some days the system may temporarily say there are no slots locally.
They said: “We have not stopped doing vaccinations at the Arena. But because vaccinations have opened up to more cohorts much quicker, we have got a lot more people trying to book than we had previously.
"We release slots each day but when the slots are full in Sheffield the system will tell people the next nearest place.
"People do not have to go elsewhere for vaccinations. It is just that they might not be able to book an appointment for next Monday; they might have to try for later in the week.
“The reason people are getting directed elsewhere is because it brings up the earliest available appointment. So if Huddersfield has a slot free tomorrow, but Sheffield has one the day after, Huddersfield will come up first.
"We are very busy at the moment because the vaccinations have opened up to more cohorts. Vaccinations are happening constantly, all day every day, and we are about to significantly increase the capacity at the Arena.
"If for some reason you try to book and there are no slots available, we just ask you to try a bit later, maybe the following morning, and at that point some extra slots may have been made available.
"We have been a victim of our own success as we are powering through the groups and opening up more. We just ask people to bear with us a little more than usual.”
Cliff Whitehead, from Sheffield, said that his experience reflected the explanation given by the NHS.
Mr Whitehead said: “I had a problem with the NHS website. It was directing me to vaccination centres in Leeds, Manchester, Wakefield, Mansfield and Stoke. The nearest to me was 20 miles away. I phoned the booking line and they told me the same.
“I gave it a few hours and tried again and managed to get two appointments at Sheffield Arena.”
Since Christmas, the number of people being invited to book their vaccinations has been steadily increasing since the most vulnerable were all confirmed to have been offered the jab.
This week, Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group said that those over 60 should now be contacting the NHS to book their vaccinations at the arena.
A statement from the CCG on March 2 said: “From this week, people aged 60+ will start to be invited for a covid vaccination.
“You'll be invited by letter to book an appointment at Sheffield Arena.
“If you would prefer to go to a local vaccination centre, you can wait to be contacted by your GP, although this will be slower than booking an appointment at Sheffield Arena.”