Geraint Davies, Strategic Lead for the Covid-19 Vaccination programme in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes said:
“From the start of the programme, the NHS has successfully had to adjust week-to-week vaccine delivery in the light of fluctuations in supply – this week sees significant increases in vaccine supply.
“Last week, the Government’s Vaccines Task Force informed us that there will be a significant reduction in weekly supply available from manufacturers beginning in the week commencing 29 March. This means that volumes for first doses will be significantly constrained in the next four weeks, as a result of reductions in national inbound vaccines supply.
“The NHS vaccination delivery programme was designed to be flexible, scaled up and diversified in line with fluctuating international vaccine supplies, and so we are currently planning how this will affect our residents in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes.
“During this period, we will focus on cohorts 1-9 – encouraging everyone aged 50 and over and the most vulnerable people to get their COVID-19 vaccination.
“As we move into April, our focus will be on offering second doses to everyone who has received their first dose earlier in the year and the number of second doses will double from the beginning of the month. Based on the amount of vaccine we have, our aim is to complete the first 9 cohorts and offer the second jab.
“We have been assured that we have enough vaccine to do these cohorts, including second jabs and we remain on track to meet the 15 April commitment to offer first jabs of vaccine to people aged 50 and over and in the top nine priority groups — followed by all adults by 31 July.
“Those under the age of 49 should only be done in very exceptional circumstances unless they fall into an eligible category e.g. cohort 6 – those who are carers or ‘at risk’.
“The Covid-19 vaccine is the best way for people to protect themselves, their loved ones and their communities and so we are looking at how we make it easier for people to get their jab. This includes extending visits to housebound patients, scheduling more care home visits and providing ‘pop up centres’ in places of worship, or in areas where take up is low and where eligible people who have not visited a fixed vaccination site may feel more comfortable.
“Our staff are a top priority. Vaccination staff have worked tirelessly to deliver the vaccination programme since December, and I know how proud you are of them , too. We have to recognise that revised vaccine supply is likely to result in a reduction in workforce demand in hospital hubs and vaccination centres. So we are looking at how we deploy staff to alternative settings, for example into primary care to help care home delivery and other areas to help us increase uptake in cohorts 1-9. There is also an opportunity for staff to take annual leave, so they can return invigorated to begin the vaccination programme for the remainder of the cohorts from the end of April.”