Pop-up vaccine centres planned in Bedford as booster campaign stalls

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Bedfordshire’s health chiefs are said to be planning ‘outreach’ vaccination pop-up centres after the booster campaign stalled.

Volunteers speaking to the Bedford Independent, say numbers turning up at the Manton Lane centre for a jab have “slumped alarmingly” since the end of the year.

Now, officials are acting to encourage folk to take the third step in the vaccine programme.

One volunteer told us, “just under a year ago people were queuing in hail, sleet and snow desperate for a jab. Now the centre is at times desolate.

“Volunteers are cancelling shifts because there is nothing to do. On one 12 hour day, there were just 60 bookings and walk-ins.

“At the peak, there were around 900 flowing through the centre.”

It’s thought the rapid transmission of Omicron may have delayed those wanting the third dose as they have to wait 28 days after testing positive.

Meanwhile, a plan is being drawn up for pop-up vaccine centres where uptake is low.

In an email to vaccination centre volunteers, seen by the Bedford Independent, a spokesperson for Bedfordshire Luton and Milton Clinical Commissioning Group (BLMK CCG) detailed the plans.

“Many of you will have noticed this week, how much quieter it has been at the Centres, and we will now be busying ourselves arranging Outreach Vaccination Pop-Ups to try and reach as many of the reticent or at risk population as possible.

“This does not mean the Centres will not continue to provide that easily accessible and valued Mass Vaccination Hub, and I would encourage all to continue to volunteer wherever possible.”

The email also praised volunteers for the staff adding that the administering of 100,000 vaccines in the BLMK area in December 2021 alone, “would not have been possible without the outstanding effort, dedication and commitment of our amazing staff and volunteers.”

The hub at Manton Lane, Bedford will remain open seven days a week for appointments and walk-ins.

Speaking at Bedford Borough Council’s Local Outbreak Engagement Board in October last year, Dan Ibeziako, head of engagement, communications and marketing at BLMK CCG said: “Getting vaccinated is the most important thing that we can do to protect ourselves, our homes, and our communities.”

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