Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Groups have opened two new vaccination centres - one near Shefford at Priory House, Chicksands, and one at Bedford Heights business centre, Bedford.
The site at Central Beds Council’s Priory House headquarters opened its doors on Thursday (February 4) and both operations are being run by Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT), drawing on its proven track record of delivering local immunisation programmes in the area.
Mayor of Shefford Paul Mackin said: “This is going to speed up the inoculation process and help to stop the disease from spreading.
“We really need to encourage everybody to have the vaccination. You still see a lot of people on social media pages saying it’s fake and not needed. It’s ridiculous.
“We have just lost a really heroic member of the Bedfordshire community, Captain Sir Tom, and if it’s going to hit him, it’s going to hit anybody. People have to realise that. Get it done as soon as possible, as soon as you are invited.”
The BLMK CCGs informed the Chronicle that The Priory House location is one of the mass vaccination sites and that patients [those in the eligible cohorts will have received letters] can book in using the national booking website or by calling 119, irrespective of which GP they are registered with.
If patients choose not to attend one of these centres they will not lose the opportunity to be vaccinated and will hear from GP services about a local appointment.
Commenting on the progress of Biggleswade’s own vaccination site, The Weatherley Centre, Maxcine Widdows, operations manager of Jardines Pharmacy - which is organising vaccinations at the site, said: “It went really well and over 1,200 people were vaccinated (January 28 - January 30).
“Don’t be scared to have it. It’s gone through all the trials and it’s totally safe. I’ve had mine and it didn’t hurt. The main side effect seems to be a background headache, and I didn’t get a sore arm. You need it to protect yourself and other people.”
The Weatherley Centre is currently open from Thursdays to Saturdays and aimed to vaccinate around another 1,200 people last week (February 4 - 6).
Meanwhile, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service Station Commander Rob Hulatt has been working with local partners, including the NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commission Groups to ensure the smooth set up and running of the two new Bedfordshire centres, with another four to open soon.
He will then pass the daily running over to additional BFRS members of staff.
It is hoped that the centres will welcome around 500 members of the public each day to receive their jabs over the next 10 months.
Cllr Tracey Stock, executive member for Health, Wellbeing and Communities, said: “I’m delighted that residents have a new vaccination centre from February 4 at Priory House, and would urge anyone who has been invited to book an appointment to do so. This represents another big step forward in helping to beat Covid-19. My sincere thanks goes to everyone who has worked around the clock to deliver this programme.”
Figures for Central Beds (published on Wednesday, February 3) show there were 68 new Covid cases in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total so far to 13,934.
Over that 24-hour period there had been seven further deaths within 28 days of a positive test, bringing the overall total to 493.