Andover’s new vaccination centre opened its doors this week, bringing the fight against Covid into the heart of the town.

The new hub opened in the Chantry Centre after relocating from The Lights, which is reopening as a theatre. The new venue came about as a result of work between the NHS and Test valley Borough Council (TVBC), which own the centre.

Sarah Smith, the centre’s vaccine co-ordinator, told the Advertiser: “We’ve seen an increase in footfall since the move here. The system hasn’t changed from The Lights, as it worked perfectly, and the only difference is that customers can get a cup of coffee afterwards!”

The last jabs at The Lights were given out on August 24, before staff and volunteers began the process of moving the centre into the Chantry Centre. Sarah said the response from them had been “quite marvellous”.

“We’ve had many volunteers in to help,” she said. “Jobs that should have taken a day took half a day. When we took over this shop, one volunteer came in and repainted the whole vaccine room for us. That kind of dedication is overwhelming.

“TVBC have been marvellous too, anything we’ve asked for has been provided immediately.”

She said that anyone who got their first jab at The Lights won’t notice much of a change when they come to the Chantry Centre, saying: “We’ve just moved the very good Lights system to here and moulded it to fit the building.”

“It’s more convenient for residents,” she said. “The Lights was comfortable but it’s not in the town centre.”

While the vaccine programme has now been running for almost 10 months, the team are still appealing for anyone who hasn’t had their vaccine dose to come forward, particularly in the newly-announced 16-17-year-old age group. To encourage this, special sessions will be running in the next week just for students as education returns from the holidays.

Dr Ben Sharpe, the centre’s clinical lead, said: “I think we’ve tried to engage in slightly different ways with young people, such as via social media, special advertising and going to Andover College, rather than standard methods like a reminder text.

“We’ve had a really good response, and young people have been really engaged. I hope we can continue over the next few weeks to engage with people to get their first and second jabs.”

He said the centre is “likely” to be in place until at least January, with the exact timings dependent on NHS England and the vaccine advisory body the JCVI.

The Chantry Centre vaccine hub is most easily accessed from the Upper High Street entrance opposite Speciality Coffee, with anyone hoping to visit needing to walk down the arcade to the corner, where the hub is located.