Seven major NHS Covid vaccination centres are opening across England this week including one in Hertfordshire.

Hundreds of thousands of people across the country will be invited for a jab as the NHS attempts to ramp up the number of people vaccinated.

Robertson House in Stevenage has been confirmed as one of the seven centres and will serve thousands of residents across Hertfordshire as well as some neighbouring counties like Essex and Cambridgeshire.

The mass vaccination centre in the northern Hertfordshire town is in addition to the GP hubs and hospitals that have already been administering vaccines to those highest on the priority list.

Where is the mass vaccination centre in Hertfordshire?

It is situated at Robertson House, offices for Hertfordshire County Council. The full address is Robertson House, 6 Six Hills Way, Stevenage SG1 2FQ and there is a car park.

It will be open from this week and has been chosen due to its geographical location for the east of England region.

The centre will be capable of administering thousands of vaccines a week - the NHS has not yet said which of the approved Covid vaccines will be given in Stevenage.

Watford Observer: Robertson House in Stevenage is ready to host thousands of people for their Covid vaccination. Credit: PARobertson House in Stevenage is ready to host thousands of people for their Covid vaccination. Credit: PA

Who is eligible to be vaccinated there?

At this time, only those high on the priority list, and who live within a 45 minute drive of Stevenage, are being invited to have a Covid vaccine at Robertson House.

This includes people aged over 80 as well as nurses, doctors, physios, social care, and care home workers.

Some eligible residents in our area of Hertfordshire have already received invitations to Stevenage.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock says the major vaccination centres will offer vaccines to those in the top four priority groups, suggesting those aged over 70, and the clinically and extremely vulnerable, can also expect invitations in the near future.

How do you get an appointment if you are eligible?

The NHS says 130,000 letters have been delivered already to people eligible for a Covid vaccine at the seven new centres, with 500,000 more letters to be delivered this week.

Specifically, letters are being sent to people who have not yet been listed as having a Covid vaccine, and who fall into the high priority category, as stated above.

Within the letter, there will be details about how to book a slot at the vaccination centre in Stevenage, either using the NHS Covid-19 Vaccination Booking Service or over the phone.

People without an invitation/letter cannot book an appointment at the centre in Stevenage.

Similarly with GP hubs, it seems to be a case of waiting to be approached by the NHS or GP for an invitation for a vaccination.

What happens at the Covid vaccination centre?

People who book in to the Stevenage vaccine centre will be greeted by volunteers who will marshal car parks and register them when they arrive. Bookings are staggered to allow social distancing.

The person will receive a health status check and a pre-vaccination assessment before they have their jab.

Jabs will be carried out by current and former NHS staff, as well as clinicians from the independent sector and allied health professionals.

There will also be three volunteer roles staffed by St John Ambulance - fully trained vaccinators, post vaccination observers, and patient advocates.

After a jab, the person will be observed for 15 minutes. The process should take well under an hour.

Watford Observer: Robertson House. Credit: PARobertson House. Credit: PA

Do you have to get a vaccination in Stevenage if you are offered it?

If you are planning on receiving the Covid vaccination, but cannot get to Stevenage easily, you can ignore or decline the NHS invitation, and continue to wait to be invited for a vaccination at a GP hub closer to home.

Government guidance says accompanying a family member or friend to a medical appointment is among valid reasons in which you are allowed to meet others from outside your household, childcare or support bubble in larger groups, indicating giving a lift to the vaccination centre is allowed.

If you have already been vaccinated, you can ignore the invitation to go to Stevenage.

How else is the vaccination programme being expanded?

The NHS says seven mass vaccination centres are opening this week in England, with more expected to be up and running by the end of January.

It remains to be seen whether any more major hubs are planned for Hertfordshire.

Hundreds of pharmacy-led services will also deliver vaccinations as supplies become available with a handful of pilot sites starting this week.

More than 80,000 people in England have trained to deliver the vaccines and will be deployed as supplies allow the programme to expand.

Watford Observer: Margaret Keenan became the first person in the UK to receive an approved Covid vaccine. Credit: PAMargaret Keenan became the first person in the UK to receive an approved Covid vaccine. Credit: PA

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "With Covid cases at record levels and a tragic number of people losing their lives to this vicious disease, we are once again asking everyone to stay at home in order to stop its spread and protect our NHS.

"Our plan is to vaccinate as many people as possible across the entire United Kingdom as quickly as we can. And with more than 1,000 vaccination sites across the country, including seven new mass vaccination centres, we will help protect hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people over the coming weeks as we accelerate towards offering 12 million people the jab in England by the middle of February.

"There are deeply challenging weeks ahead, but today signals another significant step forward in the race to protect the public, and defeat the virus."