Greater efforts to increase vaccine uptake as Covid cases on the rise in Bedford Borough


Increases in Covid cases across the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) area have led to pressures on local hospitals, but efforts are being made to increase vaccination uptake.

Geraint Davies, director of performance and governance at BLMK Clinical Commissioning Group (BLMK CCG) told the governing body meeting yesterday (September 28) that Covid is an ever-changing situation.

“We are seeing cases increasing slightly across our system, and we are seeing activity increasing in our hospitals as well,” he said.

“And that is leading to some pressures.”

Vicky Head, director of public health, Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes, said: “From a cases point of view, I think, as we all anticipated, there have been in Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire an increase in cases in school-age children, particularly secondary schools.

“What’s more worrying to me is we are, perhaps, starting to see a signal that the rates in the 40 to 59 age group are starting to go up a bit as well.”

Ms Head told the meeting that Public Health has been working closely with Geraint and his team to get the data needed to contact individuals who have yet to be vaccinated.

“It’s really about making contact and making sure everyone has an opportunity to ask questions on the barriers that may be coming between them and vaccination,” she said.

“It’s not intended to be a coercive or persuasive call.

“We started with the over 60s, these calls were relatively hard going as this group has had a lot of follow-up already.

“We’ve moved down to the 40 to 59 and clinically vulnerable cohorts.

“These cohorts are asking more questions and are engaging in a conversation and are suggesting that they are potentially going to change their minds and get vaccinated.

“So that feels really positive.”

Mr Davies said that across BLMK over 90% of those in 1 to 9 cohorts, which is everyone over the age of 50, have had their first dose.

However, this drops to 87% for the second vaccination, below the 90% target.

“But when we put in the younger age groups, the overall vaccine rate decreases,” Mr Davies said.

“We are currently at for the first dose 79.3% and for the second dose it’s 73.3%.

“So we have a long way to go yet in terms of the target to deliver for the overall population.”

To help increase the vaccination uptake, Mr Davies said that teams have visited schools and sixth forms, as well as places of employment.

He said: “What we are also doing is looking at how we can increase the uptake amongst the younger age groups where we’ve got challenges.

“Our figures are rising slightly every week, but we have challenges around the overall targets.”

The meeting was also told that winter flu jabs have gone live and as of September 23, just under 39,000 flu vaccinations have been given across BLMK, which is 8% of the population.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

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