GPs in Bedford say the rollout of vaccinations against coronavirus (COVID-19) will begin in January, subject to the vaccine being delivered.
Starting with patients aged 80 and over, all practices within Bedford Borough will begin inviting people to two centres for their vaccinations that will start on 4 January.
The two centres will be:
- Kings House Conference Centre on Ampthill Road, MK42 9AZ
- Guru Nanak Gurdwara Temple on Ford End Road, Queens Park, MK40 4JX
GP practices have, however, reminded people not to contact them to book a vaccination as this will tie up phone lines for those who need medical assistance.
January rollout criticised
The timing of the rollout has, however, been criticised by local councillor Henry Vann.
In a statement on his Facebook page, Cllr Vann (Lib Dem, De Parys Ward) said: “Once again it seems as though the management of NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes CCGs are treating Bedford residents as second-class citizens.
“Up and down the country – and in neighbouring areas under the same management – vaccines are being rolled out whilst our residents are left waiting until January to even start receiving a vaccine. (Or in some cases have travelled elsewhere to receive their vaccine.)
“Happy to be corrected but deeply unhappy with this state of affairs.”
We have contacted Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) Commissioning Group for comment on why the rollout wasn’t happening sooner.
They responded only to confirm the timings and that GPs will be contacting patients in due course.
However, Mohammad Yasin MP for Bedford and Kempston (Labour) sought to clarify the timeline: “I am pleased that from 4 January vaccines will be available in Bedford Borough, starting with the highest priority groups, who already have been or will be contacted soon.
“While it has taken a little time to sort out the logistics of this coordinated approach, unlike neighbouring areas, having these two sites entirely devoted to administering vaccines will allow GPs to continue their vital work uninterrupted.”
Two doses needed
As the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is being used, people will be booked in for two appointments so they can have two doses 21 days apart.
This immunisation method is called a prime-boost regimen.
“The first shot primes the immune response and the second shot mobilises the cells again to respond even stronger,” said Gary McLean, a professor in molecular immunology at the London Metropolitan University, speaking to iNews.
“The result being a much better and hopefully prolonged immune response that retains memory.
“Without the second dose, I would suggest that the immunity gained will not be strong enough and will not last long enough, particularly for genetic vaccines such as Pfizer.”
People registered with Bedford Borough GP practices are advised to make sure that their contact details are up to date.
This is so teams can contact you easily if there are any delivery issues at the vaccination centres.
- Update: This article was updated on 22 December 2020 to include comment from Mohammad Yasin MP.
- Update: This article was updated on 23 December 2020 to include comment from Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) Commissioning Group and to also change ‘De Parys Group’ to ‘all practices within Bedford Borough’.