MORE than 900 doses of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine will be arriving in north Dorset tomorrow, enabling doctors to begin the “mammoth task” of vaccinating hundreds of local people.

For one day only Sturminster Newton Medical Centre will be transforming into a Covid-19 vaccination clinic, inviting priority patients from across Shaftesbury, Gillingham and the surrounding villages to receive the jab and protect themselves from the virus.

“We must use the [Pfizer] vaccine before it destabilises, we’re giving patients that access as soon as we receive it,” said Doctor Simone Yule, locality lead GP for north Dorset.

She added: “It will be a challenge but it is a huge relief, and when the first clinic is out of the way it will be a relief.”

Allocated by NHS England, Doctor Yule added that 400 doses of the Oxford vaccine will also be delivered.

The clinic will be running on Saturday, with patients over 80-years-old invited by appointment as the first priority cohort.

“This is a mammoth task, we need to get through 975 doses in one day,” said Karen Rhys, the Vale Network project manager, which works across the Gillingham Medical Practice and the Blackmore Vale Partnership.

She said: “It seems like an eternity we have been talking about this, we are so glad it is underway. It won’t be real until [the delivery] arrives.”

Dr Yule said that all of the doses had to be used on Saturday because of the “stringent time scale” associated with the Pfizer vaccine, which can only be refrigerated for around three days.

She added that the Sturminster Newton site was selected as the one designated hub for the area following health and safety checks, in addition to making sure it had appropriate facilities and could maintain social distancing.

It is hoped future clinics can be planned as the vaccine supply becomes more accessible. The vaccine will be rolled out to house-bound patients and care home residents over the next few weeks, and the second Pfizer dose will be available to those vaccinated within ten weeks.

In response to the latest national lockdown, Dr Yule said it was “absolutely needed”.

She said: “The cases have increased dramatically over the last week, there has been a massive rise in case rates. We were on 40 and now that has quadrupled.

“People need to be mindful so we can see a change, take control, work together and get through this.”

Karen added: “I don’t think [lockdown] was unexpected - we have seen cases rise locally, in some areas quite dramatically.

“Obviously we get no say, we just have to adhere to guidelines. We know the hospitals are under pressure.”

“Our staff have been amazing giving up this time to take on vaccinating,” Dr Yule later added.

“We still have our day jobs to do, it is the same people who run the clinic as those dealing with the rest of the week’s workload.”

The surgeries are reminding residents to not call their local surgery as they will be invited for a vaccination. Doctor Yule reiterated this, adding that the surgeries are "inundated" with calls every day.

As well as GP staff, between 10 and 20 volunteers will be onsite during the weekend clinic, and Karen said she is always adding volunteers to her database to assist with future operations.

She said: “This isn’t just a two-week clinic, it is going to be going on for weeks and months.

“People are excited and want to be at the heart of this, to vaccinate the country is a huge undertaking and a huge thing to be a part of.”

For more information and to take part in future clinics email