EXTENDING the availability of walk-in appointments is helping to maintain the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in the Woking area.

The vaccine centre based at St Paul’s Church in Oriental Road, Woking allows people to turn up without an appointment to get a jab from 9am to 5pm.

Director pharmacist Tahir Hussain of FastHeal Pharmacy, which operates the centre at Oriental Road, said most pop-in clinics only offered a few hours per week for walk-ins. The all-day initiative was aimed at providing more flexibility for people, particularly among the younger age groups, and encourage them to visit the centre.

“We have, on average, had over 50 walk-ins a day,” said Tahir, who has more than 10 years’ experience in Woking within the community pharmacy sector, and is one of the vaccinators at the church. “Walk-in appointments have been a huge success.

“We have a great, friendly efficient team here at FastHeal vaccine clinic, and we are still seeing a lot of people coming in either for their first and second doses.”

Volunteers stationed around the church help guide the public and keep the process moving smoothly.

“The doctors are very kind and can help alleviate concerns, let them know how you are feeling,” Charlotte, one of the car park volunteers, told a worried-looking arrival. “You’ve done the first step coming to the centre. There is no rush and it is a quick injection.”

On Tuesday last week, the centre saw 822 people. There were more than 900 appointments booked for last Saturday, not including the walk-ins who would also arrive that day.

“I started volunteering at the vaccine centre because I have a vulnerable family member who we had to shield,” said Hannah. “The vaccine helped reclaim our lives after many months being stuck at home, so I wanted to help others gain protection so they can feel safe too.”

The latest available figures, up to Friday last week, show that 81 per cent of the Woking borough population had received at least one dose of vaccine, and 86 per cent in Surrey Heath.

Across Surrey, 859,327 people – 83 per cent of the adult population – have received at least one dose of a vaccine and 717,261, of 69%, have had two jabs.

Reported COVID-19 cases are falling across the county, with a total of 2,523 logged in the seven days up to Friday. There were 192 in Woking and 138 in Surrey Heath.