A CHESTER city centre store has become the latest place for people to obtain a Covid-19 vaccine.

Boots on Foregate Street officially opened its Covid-19 vaccination hub at the rear of the store on Thursday, February 4, and is already fully booked with patients until the following week.

The store is rolling out the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, the same as the one being administered across several GP centres and vaccination hubs across west Cheshire.

While the remainder of the store is open as usual, people wishing to get a vaccination at the new hub must have an NHS pre-booked vaccination appointment.

Currently, Covid-19 vaccinations are being rolled out to people aged 70 and over, people who are clinically extremely vulnerable and health and social care workers. People must have received a letter from the NHS before they can book a test online .

Store manager Andy Mushet, speaking exclusively to The Standard on the morning the vaccination hub opened, said he was "really proud" that the team effort of Boots stores in the local area had meant the hub could open and could support the NHS at this difficult time.

He said: "As a Chester store, we are really proud to have been offered that opportunity to open the hub, it's just unbelievable.

"It's an NHS vaccination centre and it's brilliant for us in being able to help the local population, and for the country.

"The team are so excited and passionate about what we are doing. We have got people from every part of the store helping - a fantastic team effort - and staff from The Forum store, the one in Cheshire Oaks and the Greyhound Retail Park. It has been excellent how it has come together."

Boots initially rolled out its vaccination hubs to a couple of stores nationally, with the expansion of the hubs seeing three open in the North West - Chester, Speke and Southport.

Mr Mushet said the minimum number of vaccinations the store will administer will be 1,000 per week, although that may increase depending on supplies.

He added the whole process for those getting a Covid jab takes about 15-20 minutes from beginning to end. This involves a short socially distanced queue, checking the information from the patient and taking their personal details, going into the vaccination area and getting the vaccine, and finally going to a separate area to sit and make sure there are no adverse effects.

In the unlikely event of any adverse effects from the jab, Mr Mushet said the store has all the medical equipment and trained staff on hand to help.

With patients queuing for the vaccine in the morning of the launch, Mr Mushet added it was great to see the store looking busier, and added the hub's vaccinations would help everyone get one step back towards normality.

He said: "I was speaking to those in the queue and some haven't left the house in months. There has been a really good take-up for the vaccine and that is great, for us to socialise again, and for the business community, and for Chester as a whole.

"It's a fantastic city to work in, such a nice environment, and it'd be great to get some of our visitors back in, and it's supporting our NHS.

"I can't thank [our team] enough. We have had to keep running the shop and move people around but they have fitted in so well. It's a big family at Boots.

"We have had extra training, because it's an NHS operation, on the IT systems, as it goes through a national booking system. We also have pharmacists who are well trained at delivering vaccinations.

"We have had great support from local bodies with us along the journey."

Boots has been a big asset to supporting the NHS through the pandemic. Last year it set up and ran the first drive-through Covid-19 testing centre, and since March 2020, the chain has completed over 2.1 million tests across the UK.