Volunteers wanted to help with Covid-19 vaccination programme in Leighton Buzzard, as wait for confirmed details on roll-out continues

Concrete details are still awaited on when and where the Covid-19 vaccination programme will begin for Leighton-Linslade residents, although volunteers are now being sought to help with the local roll-out.

Thursday, 7th January 2021, 4:04 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th January 2021, 4:19 pm

The LBO was informed last month by Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Groups that the jab was intended to start for the over 80s from Monday, January 11.

And Leighton Buzzard Primary Care Network (consisting of Bassett Road Surgery, Leighton Road Surgery and Salisbury House Surgery) announced on social media last month that the vaccination centre would be Leighton Buzzard Rugby Club, although the original notification appears to have since been deleted.

Following the festive season, despite repeated attempts this week, the LBO has so far been unable to get any further confirmation over the vaccination plans directly from the local health bodies.

And with a lack of information forthcoming, residents have been contacting the LBO newsdesk keen to discover if there had been any developments. One woman was asking on behalf of her worried 102-year-old mother, while another questioned how other nearby communities had been receiving the vaccine and why there had been no news for Leighton Buzzard.

Another reader said: "I know no-one in Leighton Buzzard who has been called, but have found out that if you live in MK, they are on the second cohort already."

The Leighton Buzzard PCN has stated via Facebook today (Thursday) that it is looking for volunteers to help administer the vaccine. Roles include meeting and greeting of patients, taking temperatures on arrival, car park marshalls, tour guides and recovery observers. Those interested should fill out a volunteer form found at local surgeries, or email [email protected]

Meanwhile posting an update on January 4, Bassett Road Surgery said: "Information received over the New Year’s weekend indicates we are likely to get our first supply of COVID-19 vaccine sometime next week.

Could you volunteer to help with the roll-out of the vaccine?
Could you volunteer to help with the roll-out of the vaccine?

"As we don’t yet have further details and there is a short lifespan to the vaccine once delivered, we are working on outline plans to deliver the vaccine as soon as it is received. Patients will be contacted in the order prioritised by the government and given a specific day/time to attend for vaccination.

"We regret we are currently unable to administer the vaccine from our usual surgery buildings as the need for mass vaccination and social distancing requirements prohibit this.

"Vaccination rates will unfortunately be slower than those of our recent seasonal flu campaign due to the nature of the vaccine and anticipated patient queries; we will ensure that those vaccinated are given written post-vaccination information and there are already some leaflets available on our website for reference."

The surgery has said the roll-out could have implications for other services provided at Bassett Road.

It said: "Please note that the current government guidance states that we are to maintain our usual surgery services whilst delivering the COVID vaccination programme, 7 days a week for 12 hours a day.

"This will place enormous strain on the teams at all three of the Leighton Buzzard practices who are themselves experiencing staff shortages due to illness or self-isolation relating to increasing COVID rates.

"We anticipate that, at least initially, services will have to be scaled back until we have a clearer picture of vaccine deliveries; please bear with us whilst we establish this new campaign."

The Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Groups statement to the LBO on December 29 said: "From the 11th January 2021 the Covid-19 vaccination programme will begin to be rolled out to those patients aged 80 and over, who are registered with a GP practice in Leighton Buzzard.

"GP practices have started to contact patients to book them in for their vaccination appointment, we would ask that at the current time patients wait to be contacted by their practice."

And in an earlier press release from December 15 concerning the first vaccinations being issued in the area, Dr Nicola Smith, Chair of the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Groups added: “This is a hugely significant step and provides hope that after months of shielding and making sacrifices, the most vulnerable members of our community will begin to receive a vaccination against Covid-19.

“This is a tremendous challenge for Primary Care – delivering the most extensive vaccination programme in our history, whilst also continuing to see our patients and maintain routine care, but we are up the challenge and our teams have been working tirelessly to make sure that all logistics are place, so that we can provide this important vaccine safely and closer to home.”

Dr Smith added: “Whilst this is encouraging news, Covid-19 remains prevalent in our community and we continue to see an increase in infections. This will be a marathon and not a sprint, and so we ask everyone to continue to observe the guidance on hands, face and space.”

Have you, or a friend/relative, been contacted yet about getting the vaccination? Email [email protected]