Bedfordshire CCG has confirmed to the Bedford Independent that it has begun a rapid campaign to vaccinate all care home residents within Bedford Borough against COVID-19 (coronavirus).
It follows a call from NHS England, reported in the Health Service Journal (HSJ) on Wednesday (13 January), requiring GPs to make sure the first vaccine dose is given to all care home residents by 24 January at the latest.
In the first week of January, 1,200 care home residents died from COVID-19.
Speaking exclusively to the Bedford Independent, Bedfordshire CCG’s chief nurse, Anne Murray and deputy chief nurse, Maria Laffan said that the vaccination programme, using the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, had begun today for all care home staff and residents.
“The scale of the roll-out over the next two weeks is huge,” said Anne. “We’ve been preparing by getting staff trained and we’ve been working with local authority colleagues, care home staff and relatives to get consent.
“Once we’ve got the vaccine, everything is in place and it’s a smooth process.”
Both Anne and Maria are former nurses at Bedford Hospital, with Anne’s career spanning over 40 years. “It’s a long time since I’ve been on the frontline,” she said. “But I just want to be part of this.
“Many of our nurses live locally and already work closely with the care home residents. They are really keen to get out there and protect their communities.”
Despite the HSJ reporting the military is on standby in all seven of the NHS regions to assist in areas that didn’t have enough staff, we understand that this will not be required in the roll-out in Bedford Borough.
800 vaccines a day and rising
Vaccination centres at Kings House on Ampthill Road and the Sikh Temple in Queens Park are now up and running, with both open seven days a week from 8 am until 8 pm, vaccinating 400 people at each site every day.
In a few weeks, an additional site will also be open.
Borough residents will have no reason to travel out of the area – for example to the vaccination hub at Stevenage – unless they wish to.
The UK’s vaccination programme is the biggest ever in the history of the NHS, with over 1m people just in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes.
“This is the most challenging thing I’ve ever been involved in,” said Anne.
Deputy chief nurse, Maria Laffan confirmed that GPs will be making home visits to residents who are housebound to administer their vaccinations in their own homes.