'We'll finish vaccinating Leighton-Linslade by 2025 at this rate'

Councillor bemoans lack of capacity as just 2 pharmacies offer jabs after rugby club operation ends

By Euan Duncan
Monday, 21st June 2021, 4:49 pm
Updated Monday, 21st June 2021, 4:50 pm

Covid vaccination capacity in Leighton Buzzard has been reduced to two pharmacies, after the closure of a temporary centre at the local rugby club, a meeting heard.

Linslade lacks a vaccination point altogether, Central Bedfordshire Council's social care, health and housing overview and scrutiny committee was told.

Leighton Buzzard was overlooked initially in comparison to similar sized towns when the vaccine programme was rolled out.

The rugby club is no longer operating as a vaccination centre. Photo: LBPCN

"The problem is we're the biggest town in Central Bedfordshire and we now have one pharmacy in the town centre and one on an industrial estate," explained Conservative Leighton Buzzard South councillor David Bowater.

"That's the total vaccination capacity for the whole of Leighton Linslade. Linslade doesn't have a single vaccination point available.

"What's going to happen about that?" he asked.

BLMK Clinical Commissioning Group chief operating officer Nicky Poulain replied: "It's trying to make sure there's accessibility, hence the community pharmacy model is so successful.

Cllr David Bowater

"At the moment they have the capacity to do 180 a week, but they have the will to do more. It's a model we'll be really developing."

Conservative Heath and Reach councillor Mark Versallion described it as "a blended model", saying: "I live just outside Leighton Linslade. My vaccination centre is the Open University in Milton Keynes. I've no problem with that.

"I'm sure someone somewhere in the CCG has some data which tells you whether you're providing enough geographic spread because there was that difficult moment when Leighton Buzzard was left out at the beginning and other towns got it.

"We're not just relying on the pharmacies. There are other outlets where you can get a jab."

Ms Poulain said: "The vaccine wastage has been negligible. Where we've known there's a higher take-up we've managed to get the vaccine to a site.

"Ideally we'd like more community pharmacists. But it's about making sure the model is safe, convenient and cost effective."

Councillor Bowater speculated: "If there are two pharmacies with 180 a week capacity, that's 360 vaccinations a week in Leighton Linslade, so I just worked out it's somewhere around 2025 we'll finish."

Ms Poulain added: "That's the quantity because we have a very finite resource, and it's the amount allocated for our 29 community pharmacies in this pilot."

The two Leighton Buzzard pharmacies offering vaccinations are Lloyds Pharmacy in Market Square and Jardines Pharmacy in Enterprise Court.