Briefing note: Darlington Arena mass Covid-19 vaccination site opening on Monday (1 March)

Briefing note

Update on:

  • Regional COVID-19 Vaccination programme
  • Fourth Large Vaccination Centre opening at Darlington Arena

Issue date: Thursday 25th February

 Current performance

The NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme is the biggest in NHS history.

In the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care System (ICS) footprint, the vaccination programme is being coordinated by Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust who is working closely with NHS England and Improvement and in support of all local NHS organisations delivering vaccination services in communities.

Background to the vaccination programme

The NHS is prioritising vaccinating those people who experts in the The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation have agreed will benefit from it the most. This is to prevent death in those who would be more impacted from the consequence of getting COVID and to support the maintenance of the health and social care system.

These groups so far have been:

  • Cohort 1 – residents in a care home for older adults and their carers
  • Cohort 2 – all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers
  • Cohort 3 – all those 75 years of age and over
  • Cohort 4 – all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individual

As we move down through the priority groups there will be more people in each group to vaccinate as well as second doses to consider.

Already the NHS in the region has vaccinated over 904,000 people with all people aged over 80 now vaccinated, nine out of ten older care home residents plus large numbers of front line health and social care staff all receiving their first vaccine. The vast majority of people in the 70-75 age groups have now also been offered vaccination as well as those who are classed as extremely clinically vulnerable.

A significant proportion of vaccination has been carried out by local vaccination services run by local GP practices working in primary care networks, hospitals hubs, community pharmacy and community health services running over 80 local vaccination sites across the region working closely with local authorities and other partners to deliver them.

To complement local vaccination services there are three Large Vaccination Centres in the region, these are at Newcastle’s Centre for Life and the NHS Nightingale Hospital North East, Sunderland and Arnison Centre, Durham.

These centres see up to 1000 patients a day, running 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

People are invited to attend these large centres by the National Booking Service run by NHS England. People receive a letter and are invited to book either on-line or by calling 119 free of charge between 7am and 11pm – only people invited to book can do so.

It’s important to note that Large Vaccination Centres offer an alternative choice for people to local GP vaccination services. People may wish to wait until they receive an invitation from their own GP practice as this is likely to be closer to where they live and might be more convenient depending on individual circumstances

Cohorts 5 and 6

Since Monday 15th February, people in cohorts 5 and 6 are being invited by the NHS to have their vaccine.

  • Cohort 5 – all those 65 years of age and over
  • Cohort 6 – all individuals aged 16 years to 64 years with underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious disease and mortality

Local GP vaccination services are focusing initially on the clinically vulnerable from cohort 6 because of the relationship between general practice and those with long term conditions, and continuity of care.

People in cohort 6 (aged 65 and over) may also receive a letter from the national booking service inviting them to book at a large vaccination centre.

It might be more convenient for people to wait for their local vaccination service run by GPs to get in touch.

Should somebody aged 65 to 69 want to wait to be called by their local GP vaccination service or who have already received the jab they do not need to respond to their national booking service invitation.

People should not be worried there is enough vaccine supply to make sure that everyone who wants to have a vaccination can do so.

The way the cohorts are being invited may result in a younger person with an underlying health condition being offered an appointment before someone in the over 65 year age group.  This doesn’t mean you have been missed so please wait until the NHS contacts you.

Large Vaccination Centre for Darlington

A fourth Large Vaccination Centre for the region will open at Darlington Arena, home of Mowden Park rugby club on Monday 1st March 2021 adding additional capacity for local people to get their vaccine.

It will be known as the Darlington Arena Vaccination Centre and the address is Neasham Rd, Darlington DL2 1DL.

The centre was chosen in consultation with local partners for its location accessibility.

All staffing and volunteers for the centre have been recruited and trained and are ready to see up to 1000 people a day.

Parking and operational considerations

Learning from other large vaccination centres have been applied for Darlington Arena

The car park is used for all vaccination centre patients and there will be ample free parking onsite.

Clear signposting is provided on main roads into the centre and marked as ‘Darlington Arena Vaccination Centre’.

People driving to the centre are asked to only arrive no more than fifteen minutes before their appointment, this is so traffic can flow in and out of the car park.

There are marshals in the car park to keep traffic moving and ensure that parking is easy and quick.

There is a drop off service onsite for family members and taxis.

The programme is working with public transport providers to ensure that people who wish to come by public transport understand how they can do so safely.

There is alternative parking for the vaccination centre staff so that they do not look to park in adjacent streets or business car parks.

Vaccinations are by appointment only via the national booking centre according to priority cohort group.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will be used in the centre, there will not be a choice of vaccine.

For more information on the programme visit: COVID-19 Vaccine – Newcastle Hospitals Coronavirus microsite (

Getting to the Darlington Arena

The nearest bus stops are called ‘Brankin Drive’ and are located on Brankin Road, 270m from the main access into the Arena. This is on average a 4 minute walk.

The Brankin Drive bus stops are served by services 13A and 13B – 13B being the most direct/quickest from town and the 13A being the most direct/quickest to town. Both services operate every 30 minutes, so 4 journeys per hour. The timetables can be found at:

 In addition those residents in the Tees Valley that are eligible for the TeesFlex service operated by Stagecoach are able to book this service to access the Arena site for a vaccination appointment.


Click ‘Large vaccination Centre’ and there will be information on the Darlington Arena site. This will be widely communicated via social media through all our partners. 

If you have any questions or comments please contact