Why is Newcastle so good at Covid-19 vaccinations?

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All 31 GP practices work under one roof in operation planned by decorated army veteran

It is 11am at the Newcastle Eagles basketball arena, and the queue for the car park is already bigger than for many home games. An army of volunteers in padded jackets and bobble hats wave through free buses from the city’s poorest suburbs, while discounted taxis disgorge their passengers, some with walking frames and sticks. One woman pushes her severely disabled adult son in his wheelchair.

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Some have come in their Sunday best – three-piece suits, twinsets and pearls. A few bear chocolates, biscuits and thank-you cards for the staff. Many look anxious – Robert Graham, a dapper 76-year-old in a fedora and matching tweed jacket, says he’s avoided needles since a trip to the dentist many decades ago and is only here because Joyce, his wife, has made him. Joyce is excited. Finally, their time has come: they are about to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in perhaps the slickest vaccination operation in the UK.

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