The mass COVID-19 vaccination centre at the former Bunnings site in Belmont has opened its doors, with the first locals receiving the jab on Monday.
The clinic went through comprehensive testing last week and over the next three weeks will ramp up to full capacity, administering up to 20,000 vaccinations a week.
Hunter New England Local Health District Chief Executive, Mr Michael DiRienzo, said today was an exciting milestone as the vaccine rollout in NSW continues to ramp up.
"In just six weeks we have converted an empty warehouse to a built-for-purpose clinic, including medical treatment bays, waiting areas, a pharmacy preparation area, storage, staff facilities and public amenities," he said.
From today, people who were booked to be vaccinated at the John Hunter Hospital vaccination clinic will now be vaccinated at the new mass vaccination centre.
As the clinic increases capacity, more new appointments will also become available at the new centre via the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker at covid-vaccine.healthdirect.gov.au/eligibility
"I recognise that there is great demand for appointments across Newcastle and the Hunter, and that there have been some frustrations with booking.
"Please be patient as we ramp up the clinic to full capacity," Mr DiRienzo said.
"We know the COVID-19 vaccine is our best chance of keeping the virus at bay and ensuring we keep our communities safe, so we are very focussed on getting locals vaccinated as quickly as possible.
"To avoid lengthy delays and to ensure the clinic can function as it's been designed to do, please make an appointment and only attend at your allocated time."
NSW Health has progressively expanded its capacity to administer COVID-19 vaccines since the rollout began in February and is continuously exploring a range of options to further expand its capacity.
The vaccination centre is located at 393 Pacific Highway, Belmont and employs up around 100 nurses and 25 pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, in addition to around 200 other support staff.
Tomorrow, a pop-up vaccination clinic is set to open at Maitland Showground, administering the AstraZeneca vaccinations from 9:30am onward until 12:30pm.
The one-day operation, facilitated by local Lorn Surgery Clinic, hopes to speed up the rollout of the vaccination for people in the Lower and Upper Hunter. The Lorn Clinic hope to expand this operation when the Pfizer jab becomes more readily available later this year.
"88,000 people were recorded to have been tested for COVID this morning in the last 24 hours," NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian stated in this mornings press conference. "That is a new record for NSW," she continued.
"But we need to be getting vaccinated. We won't be able to live freely and safely unless we are vaccinated."
Maitland bookings are preferred but drop-ins will be accommodated to the best of their ability.
For booking enquiries 4933 2622 or lornsurgery.com.au.
For the latest information on the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine , visit the NSW Health website at www.nsw.gov.au.