BABIES and young children with breathing difficulties have started arriving at York’s mass vaccination centre as it expands its role by launching an innovative pilot clinic.

The young patients are being referred by their GP to the clinic at the Askham Bar site, where they are seen by an experienced children’s nurse, working alongside a GP.

Professor Mike Holmes, who leads the vaccination centre, says viral illnesses are predicted to be on the increase this winter and so the clinic has been set up to help care for children and their families in a community setting with both GP and hospital expertise.

Writing in his weekly column for The Press, he says the child and family friendly facility - developed in conjunction with the York Hospital trust - runs between 4pm and 10pm each evening. "This service is joint working at its best,” he said.

Prof Holmes first revealed last month how the vaccination centre was set to have an expanded new role as a ‘health village,’ where people could go for health checks for conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease, stroke and dementia as well as a clinic for children.

He said in his column that a careers fair held there last Saturday had been a ‘great success'.

He also said the vaccination programme was progressing well, with nearly 2.5 million jabs now having been delivered across the region.

“There are multiple vaccination streams in operation as we progress with boosters, continue to vaccinate 16-17 year olds, support the school teams to vaccinate 12-15 year olds and offer third doses to those patients with reduced immunity,” he said.

“The programme becomes ever more complex, but the teams managing this are doing a sterling job in ensuring the right vaccine gets to the right people.”

Meanwhile, Prof Holmes also urged women to keep up to date with their regular smear tests, saying that many people may have missed out on theirs during the pandemic.

“I can’t stress how important this is and would urge everyone eligible to book in for theirs as soon as they get their letter from the national NHS screening programme,” he said.

l The column is on page 16.