WORK is underway to transform a South Lakeland shopping centre into a mass Covid-19 vaccination site.

Pictures show the Westmorland Shopping Centre in Kendal being prepared to open as a mass vaccination centre, with shop units displaying the NHS logo and windows boarded up.

Jane Scattergood, Covid-19 vaccination director for the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System, confirmed a 'large-scale' site would be opening in Kendal in the coming weeks.

She said: “As the expansion of the Covid vaccination programme continues to gather pace, we are planning to open a large-scale site in Kendal in the coming weeks.

“GPs, nurses, pharmacists, other staff, and volunteers are working hard behind the scenes to get the site ready. As with other vaccination services, people should wait to be invited by the NHS.

“The rollout of the vaccine and establishing these sites involves a wide range of organisations working together.

“We need to thank the significant support to the NHS to deliver the Covid vaccination programme from our wider partners including Cumbria County Council, Lancashire County Council, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Blackpool Council, our district councils, the military, police, local businesses and many more.”

Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron said the centre would open ‘imminently.’

“I believe it is expected to open at the beginning of February,” he said.

He added that the opening of centres such as the Westmorland Shopping Centre was ‘vital’ to achieving the Government’s target of vaccinating the four priority categories, as set out by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, by mid-February.

“The country is well behind where it needs to be if the aim is to get those top four categories of people who are clinically vulnerable vaccinated for February,” said Mr Farron.

“In South Lakeland we’re doing better than most places but my sense is that we would need to be doing something like four times as many vaccines a day to make the target.

“So it’s vital we get these centres open and that the Government delivers the amount of vaccines we need.

“What I hear is that the more sites you’ve got, the more vaccine you suck into the area.”

Nick Pitt, regional centre manager for Praxis, the company that owns the Westmorland Shopping centre, said the company was 'delighted' to play a part in the vaccination programme.

He said: "The Westmorland Shopping Centre is delighted to welcome the NHS into the scheme and extremely proud to be playing our part in the nation’s largest ever vaccination programme.

"We hope that this mass vaccination centre in such a familiar and accessible location will give reassurance to the public and play a significant role in returning Kendal to more normal times."

Cumbria and Lancashire health bosses were delighted after the launch of another mass vaccination centre at Blackburn Cathedral last week, which has already seen hundreds of people living within 45 minutes of the site being invited for their first vaccine.