Bedford Mayor blasts health chiefs as Borough lags behind flu vaccination targets

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Flu vaccine over 65s

Bedford’s mayor has blasted health chiefs as figures show the Borough is already lagging behind its crucial flu vaccination targets.

A special meeting of the council-run health and wellbeing board was held on Wednesday lunchtime where mayor Dave Hodgson demanded a plan to put the borough on track to meet its jab targets.

“You’re all telling me it’s really important that people get vaccinated this year,” he told an array of health chiefs.

“We didn’t hit our targets last year and we seem to be doing the same thing we did last year with a very different target.

“We have to do something different. We have to hit the target.”

He added: “If what you are telling me clinically is true, and I do believe it, we must do that.

“The trajectory is we will not get there by the end of November. We won’t get there by Christmas.”

The board was told that targets are on the way to being hit in the over 65, pregnant women, and in two and three year-olds.

Compared with other parts of Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes, the borough is also lagging behind, the meeting heard.

And this year even though the Prime Minister has called for 100 per cent of groups to be vaccinated, the mayor pointed out that the local target has again been set at 75 per cent.

Targets are so far being missed in the at risk group of under 65s, where only 7 per cent of people have so far been vaccinated.

The mayor was also concerned that just under 12 percent of carers have received their jabs, which could leave those they care for vulnerable to infection.

Cllr Louise Jackson (Lab, Harpur) the executive member for health and wellbeing said this year was an opportunity to test things out ready for when it comes to a vaccine for covid-19.

Mayor Dave added: “I’ve probably seen more about the roll-out of a covid-19 vaccine we don’t have rather than the roll out of a flu vaccine that we do have.”

Dr Sanhita Chakrabarti, who is the clinical lead for commissioners in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK), said there would be a more proactive approach and promised to provide the mayor with the details of a plan by the end of this week.

The mayor also wants to see better local communication with the public about when they can expect to have their jabs.

Meeting attendees were told that problems with the delivery of vaccines is continuing, and it risks people giving up on getting their vaccination if appointments are cancelled.

The mayor was also concerned that the over 50s, included in this year’s free jab programme, do not know they will be able to get their vaccination later in the flu season.

Dr Sarah Whiteman, the medical director of commissioners in BLMK, said information would be improved on websites which the mayor claimed was “hidden”.

“We will, I promise,” she said.

by David Tooley Local Democracy Reporter

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