DRAGON Taxis is offering free rides to elderly and vulnerable people in Torfaen who are attending a coronavirus vaccination appointment.

The firm is working with participating GP practices to help eligible people get to their vaccine appointments if they have no other means of transport.

“In these first few weeks of the programme, we are helping to assist the first wave of people get their vaccinations," regional director Jack Price said. "For those who don’t have another means of transport we want to help our local community beat Covid.

“We don’t want to bring any additional pressure on the NHS or GP practices and it’s vital that people do not call their GPs or NHS asking about free rides. Our offer is strictly on appointment only for those persons who are eligible.”

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The taxi firm is offering a private-hire journey to the vaccination centre, and the patient also has the option to book a journey home.

Telephone operators at the participating GP surgeries will co-ordinate the journeys with the Dragon Taxis dispatch centre, in a system designed to make sure only the eligible persons who need it get access to the free rides.

Mr Price said there had been "tremendous interest" in the scheme.

"We are also exploring the option of fixed rates and reduced fares for future waves of people who are invited for their vaccination," he added. "Even if you are not eligible for the free journey, we may be able to help you. This might be a useful option as public transport services are being reduced.”