WITH the coronavirus vaccine being rolled out across the UK this week, a testing centre is set to be built in Witney.

Work will begin today to construct an NHS Covid-19 testing centre in the Woodford Way car park, with the centre expected to remain for at least three months.

It will mean about 80 long-stay car parking places will be out of action, and the recycling centre will also be removed to accommodate the building.

The site is set to go into operation on Saturday, and will open from 8am to 8pm.

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Addressing concerns that residents may have with the loss of car parking, West Oxfordshire District Council’s (WODC) cabinet member for resources, Toby Morris, said: “We realise this will be an inconvenience for some residents and businesses that use the long-stay car parking at Woodford Way as well as the recycling centre.

“However, the NHS testing service had to find a suitable site in the town centre and this was the best option.

“It will allow easy access for walk-in testing which I am sure everyone will agree is completely necessary in the fight against Covid-19.”

Short-term parking at Woodford Way will remain in place.

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The council stressed alternative long-stay parking is available on levels seven and eight of the Marriott’s Walk multi-storey car park and Zone G of the Woolgate car park.

WODC will also make provision for an additional 75 long-stay car parking spaces at its Woodgreen and Elmfield offices.

Meanwhile, the council reported that collections will be boosted at recycling centres in Moorland Road and Hailey Road.

The testing centre comes in the midst of a momentous week in the fight against Covid-19.

People aged 80 and older, care home workers and NHS workers who are at higher risk are at the front of the queue for the Pfizer jabs being dished out this week.

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A 90-year-old grandmother became the first person in the world to receive Pfizer’s Covid-19 jab at a hospital in Coventry just after 6.30am yesterday.

News of the vaccination roll out will be welcome to care homes across West Oxfordshire, including Richmond Village in Witney.

A spokesperson for Richmond Villages said: “We’re encouraged by the news of successful trials and the approval of the Pfizer vaccine, along with the Government’s continued promise that when available, they will be prioritised towards the most vulnerable to the virus.

“We are yet to receive detail of when a vaccination programme will commence across our care homes and villages.

“In the meantime, we’re continuing to strictly follow all government and Public Health guidance and taking all the necessary infection control measures to keep everyone safe.”

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The Government has so far ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which was 95 per cent effective in clinical trials.

Ten million doses are expected in the UK by the end of the year.

While the Government has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, it has also requested 100 million doses of Oxford’s AstraZeneca vaccine, which has an average efficacy of 70 per cent.

Meanwhile, a new vaccine, from Janssen, is being trialled at GP surgeries in West Oxfordshire.

An agreement has been made in principle for the Government to purchase 30 million doses of Janssen’s vaccine if it is safe and effective.

Volunteers are taking part in the study at the Windrush Medical Practice, Witney and the Eynsham Medical Group.