One year into Covid fight and Leighton Buzzard's vaccination programme gives hope for the future

Today marks exactly one year to the day since Prime Ministor Boris Johnson announced the first lockdown in the UK.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 9:48 am
Updated Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 9:50 am

It’s been a challenging 12 months, and in this time more than 15,000 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Central Bedfordshire, with more than 600 deaths involving the virus.

Latest figures show that in the week ending March 14 there were 137 new cases (previous weekly report was 135), with 11 deaths. Despite a generally declining trend the sitation locally has been described as “fragile”.

Across the district, Biggleswade South and Sandy saw the most cases in the last week (10 each). In LBO land, Leighton Buzzard South and Leighton Buzzard North each had six cases, Linslade, Heath and Reach and Eaton Bray all had three.

A rainbow at the Leighton Buzzard vaccination centre offering a symbol of hope that we are winning the fight against Covid-19 Photo: LBPCN

More than 91,000 adults have been vaccinated with at least one dose in Central Bedfordsire, with almost 10,000 in the last seven days. A lot of that good work has been carried out at Leighton Buzzard Primary Care Network’s vaccination centre at the town’s rugby club.

Stephen King, operations manager of LBPCN, has told the LBO this week that there have been emotional scenes as the public gratefully attend the centre and receive the vaccine.

He reflected: “One year ago on March 23, 2020, the country went into its first pandemic lockdown. The country was just getting to grips with its understanding of how the Covid virus works.

“Fear and apprehension was prominent in most people’s minds. We had bouts of panic buying which saw supermarkets shelves cleared of such items as pasta, flour and toilet tissue.

14,000 jabs have been administered at Leighton Buzzard vaccination centre Photo: LBPCN

“Rationing was introduced by some stores. People scoured supermarkets and stores for toilet roll and flour. Facebook and WhatsApp relayed messages possible sightings of the elusive item.

“Who would imagine that exactly one year later we would be in another lockdown? Thankfully panic buying is now a thing of the past and we have adapted to life as solitary home working,

Zoom meetings, face masks, social distancing and that eternal hope that we will return to normality soon.”

Mr King started to plan for the Leighton Buzzard vaccination centre in December last year and the site administered its first vaccination on January 14.

He said: “We are now nine weeks on and have delivered 14,000 vaccinations. During the first few weeks of our programme we had emotional scenes from patients who had not left their homes for nine months.

“From sons and daughters where tears of relieve and joy that their parents, and grandparents, were getting a live-saving vaccine. It really did bring a lump to the throats of all that were involved to see such happy people.

“This euphoria has continued throughout our time at the rugby club, We will soon deliver the second dose and expect the same level of enthusiasm from patients and staff alike.

“Our aim has always been to keep on administering vaccinations to patients in a safe, effective and efficient environment and we will continue to do so for as long as we are needed.

“The introduction of the mass vaccination sites has increased dramatically the volume of daily vaccination that has contributed to the amazing UK total.”

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