So far this term Bedford Borough Council has received over 1,500 positive Covid case notifications from schools, with 382 in the week commencing 4 October, a meeting heard.
“The wards where we’re seeing the highest numbers and highest rates of cases at the moment are clearly related to where we are having significant school outbreaks,” Mr Ian Brown, chief officer for public health at Bedford Borough Council, told the Local Outbreak Engagement Board (October 14).
The schools reporting every case helps Public Health to see where the hotspots are, where the issues are and to respond accordingly, he added.
The borough has 26 educational settings that meet a threshold for further action. This includes 16 primary schools and eight secondary schools.
Mr Brown said that six settings have been stepped down since the start of term, with many schools opting to keep the additional measures in place to prevent “getting into that situation again”.
“With the 12 to 15-year-olds vaccine program now well under way, we hope that after half-term schools will be in a very different place,” he said.
“But [there is] still lots of work to do to try and minimise education disruption.”
Councillor Phillippa Martin-Moran-Bryant (Conservative, Great Barford Ward), asked, “How are the vaccinations coming along with the 12 to 16-year-olds and do the children have to travel to vaccination centre or are they are jabbed in school?”
Dan Ibeziako, from BLMK CCG’s communication and engagement team, said, ” Those between 16 and 17 and three-quarters can either walk into a vaccination site to get their first dose of the vaccination or they can book by the national booking system.
“Vaccinations for 12 to 15-year-olds are being undertaken by a school-age immunisation service.
“That service is going into schools and vaccinating those that are between 12 and 15 on that day.”
Mr Ibeziako added that this is after getting consent from parents or a person with a parental responsibility.
He also told the meeting that walk-in slots became available this week across BLMK for those who were absent from school during these vaccination visits and these are available between 4pm and 6pm.
Vicky Head, director of public health, clarified that these are currently a ‘mop up’ service for the children that were unable to be vaccinated when the schools team was on-site and are not currently an open offer.
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter