NHS vaccination programme reaches significant milestone
The NHS in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK) are celebrating the one year anniversary of the delivery of the first COVID-19 vaccine. A year ago this week, the biggest vaccine campaign in the history of the NHS began as 90-year-old grandmother, Margaret Keenan, became the first person worldwide to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 jab following clinical approval.
Since that first vaccination on 8 December 2020 over 1.5 million first, second and booster jabs have been carried out in BLMK. To date, 633,000 people have had both first and second jabs in BLMK, with more than 230,000 people being fully vaccinated and having had their booster jab. That is around 70% of the eligible population age 12+ that have now been fully vaccinated and 50% fully vaccinated plus booster.
Dr Sarah Whiteman GP and Chair of NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “The largest vaccination programme in the history of the NHS reaches its one year anniversary and I couldn’t be prouder of all the teams that have come together and worked tirelessly in supporting out efforts. From hospital teams, volunteers, GPs, the third sector and so many, many more have all helped in executing this mammoth project.
The COVID-19 vaccination programme is a great example of what can be achieved by working in partnership across the whole community. I’d like to thank everyone who has come forward for their vaccinations and to all the volunteers, health and care providers and wider stakeholders who contributed to the vaccination programme across BLMK over the past 12 months.”
Despite this outstanding progress, there are still thousands of eligible people, including pregnant women, who remain unvaccinated and many others eligible for a second or booster jab, which is why health and care chiefs are continuing to urge anyone who is eligible to come forward now.
Dr Whiteman continued: “Vaccination is clinically-proven to reduce your risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 and your risk of catching or spreading coronavirus. So, when it’s your turn to be invited to book your vaccine or booster, please do so. You may be invited to a different vaccination centre this time around and, in some cases, a flu jab may be offered at the same time.
“It’s never too late to come forward for your COVID-19 vaccination and with Christmas just around the corner, it’s really important that we are all as protected as we can be – and this includes booking your booster jab as soon as you are eligible.”
Geraint Davies Senior Responsible Officer for the vaccination programme from BLMK CCG said: “Our vaccination programme started off small but now we are carrying out hundreds of jabs each day. First, we invited people to come forward to a few selected sites, but we have had drop in sessions running out of GP practices, pharmacies, hospital hubs, mass vaccination centres, community centres, church halls and schools right across Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes.
“The vaccination programme has been constantly evolving as we have opened up jabs to new cohorts. And today I am pleased to say the latest iteration is the rolling out of family friendly sessions which will enable mum, dad, grandparents and eligible children to be vaccinated in one session.”
Research published by the UK Health Security Agency shows that booster jabs can cut the risk of infection by more than 93% and anyone aged 40+ or in an at-risk group is now eligible to receive a booster dose and everyone aged 18+ will be invited in due course.
For further information on the COVID-19 vaccination programme including details of eligible cohorts can be found at www.blmkccg.nhs.uk/covid-19