It is usually home to exhibitions and events, with halls packed full of thousands of visitors from across the country, but from next week Telford International Centre (TIC) will become one of the central points of the county’s battle against Covid.
The site is currently being prepared to operate as a mass vaccination centre – with plans to begin vaccinating 2,000 people a day, eventually scaling up to 10,000. Letters offering appointments could start going out by the end of the week.
The centre will be the first to open in Shropshire, with others planned for Shrewsbury and Ludlow in the first week of February, and another for north Shropshire later next month. It comes as other smaller local vaccination sites in Newport and Wellington are also expected to start operating next week.
Telford & Wrekin Council has been working with health authorities and the International Centre management to set up the site, and the authority’s leader, Councillor Shaun Davies, said it was a major development for the borough.
He said that the focus now had to be on accelerating the vaccine programme – which he added has been the major item of interest for borough residents in the past few weeks.
He said: “Clearly the council is not running the operation at Telford International Centre, however, our staff are highly involved in the setting up of the site, together with other locations in Telford & Wrekin, and I am absolutely delighted that the biggest vaccination centre in Shropshire will be opening at the TIC for appointments.
“We are well behind the national average on the vaccination rollout so it is vital we work together to improve that figure.
“I have been inundated with contacts from residents on this and it is important we get them the protection against this deadly virus as soon as possible.”
Councillor Davies said they were thankful for the efforts of the TIC, which has been closed as a result of the pandemic.
Shropshire Council is yet to confirm the location of its sites planned to open next month – although it has been rumoured that the Indoor Bowls Centre at Sundorne could be the Shrewsbury location.
Councillor Dean Carroll, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for adult social care, public health and climate change, said: “This is by far the most ambitious public health initiative the county has ever seen, and we will be able to confirm the exact locations of these sites soon.
“As a council, we have been supporting our NHS colleagues over the last months with the infrastructure and planning to deliver the vaccine in our hospital hubs, local GP-led services and care homes, at the same time as providing care in the community to those people who have received their vaccination.”