Updated 12th January 2021

The vaccination programme is being carried out by the various parts of the NHS. This is a huge logistical endeavour and partners have been working tirelessly behind the scenes to plan and prepare for vaccinating thousands of residents as soon as the supplies of the vaccine become available.

Vaccinations will be available through:

Mass vaccination centres – The nearest regional centre to Central Bedfordshire (so far) is at Robertson House in Stevenage.

If you receive an invitation to attend this centre but you do not want to, or cannot, travel to Stevenage don’t worry you will be able to attend an appointment locally through your GP but this might take a little longer.

GPs – In Central Bedfordshire the GPs are grouped into networks (called Primary Care Networks) and each PCN will have a centre where they will vaccinate people. Some are already up and running, others will be starting to vaccinate in the coming weeks.

The latest information we have is provided below (please note this is subject to change):

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The PCNs will also be responsible for vaccinating those people who, for medical reasons, are not able to leave their homes, such as care home residents.

Community vaccination centres – Like the Mass Vaccination Centres above, these are centres which are being set up to vaccinate around 500 people per day. These are unlikely to be available for a few weeks yet. Again, invites will come to residents to book an appointment online on a priority basis.

Wait to be invited for your vaccination

The vaccination at this stage is only for those invited. Residents should not contact their GP practice, hospital or other sites to request the vaccine. Residents will be contacted when it’s the right time to come forward.

The government has set out the order in which groups of people will be prioritised for vaccinations.

The top four priority groups are the current priority. If you do not fit into one of these groups, you will not be invited for a vaccination yet. Further detail about the priority groups is available on the Government website.

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Protecting our Health and Care Services

Now more than ever during this pandemic, it is really important for everyone to follow the rules. In winter, our hospitals and other NHS and care services, are always under greater pressure than at other times of the year.

And now we are seeing increasing numbers of admissions to Bedford and Luton & Dunstable and other local hospitals too. You and your family can help protect the services we all rely on by following the rules and encouraging others to do the same.

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Please do not call your local GP surgery asking when you will get the Pfizer vaccination.

The vaccination is currently being given to the population who are 80 and over.

A small number of GP-led primary care networks across the country will begin providing vaccinations to this first group including care homes.

We recognise that this is a long programme and BLMK CCG have informed us that you will be called when you hit the criteria for a vaccination.

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Barbara and Arthur Simper, the first patients from our area, being vaccinated at the vaccination hub at Milton Keynes Hospital

Barbara and Arthur Simper

Milton Keynes Hospital was selected as a vaccination hub in the first instance, because of the complex way in which the Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored. However, BLMK CCG is working to provide more locations that can carry out vaccinations, including some in primary care settings, so that we can offer the vaccine to more people in the near future. We will keep you up to date with information around this, as soon as we are able.

Patients aged 80 and above who are already attending hospital as an outpatient, and those who are being discharged home after a hospital stay, will be among the first to receive the essential jab.

MKUH will also begin inviting over 80s in for the vaccination and work with care home providers to book their staff into vaccination clinics.

Any appointments not used for these groups will be used for healthcare workers who are at highest risk of serious illness from COVID. All those vaccinated will need a booster jab 21 days later.

A small number of GP-led primary care networks across the country will begin providing vaccinations to this first group including care homes.

Vaccination centres treating large numbers of patients in sporting venues and conference centres will subsequently stand up when further supplies of vaccine come on stream.

We recognise that this is a long programme and BLMK CCG have informed us that you will be called when you hit the criteria for a vaccination.

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Poster

 

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There has been encouraging recent news about coronavirus vaccines, with some successful trials reported.

But which vaccines are likely to be the most effective and how do they work?

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Planning for the deployment of any safe and effective vaccine(s), as soon as they are authorised for use in the UK, is underway. The JCVI: updated interim advice on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination document forms a preliminary framework for future advice for the basis of a national COVID-19 vaccination strategy.

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Looking after your physical and mental wellbeing during lockdown

As the country enters another period of lockdown, it is important to look after our mental and physical wellbeing.

Here are some helpful tips

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Face covering exemptions

If you can, you should wear a face covering in public places like shops and supermarkets but please respect those who are unable to wear one.

Respect those that can't wear a face mask

Remember, not all health conditions are visible

The list of exemptions, which has been in place since face coverings became mandatory on public transport, includes hidden conditions such as:

  • anxiety or panic disorders
  • autism
  • breathing difficulties
  • dementia
  • reduced vision or if you are with someone who relies on lip reading to communicate

Full details available on the GOV.UK website about face covering exemptions.

Exemption cards or badges

Some people may feel more comfortable showing something that says they do not have to wear a face covering. This could be in the form of an exemption card, badge or even a home-made sign. You can download exemption cards on the GOV.UK website.

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If you have symptoms, however mild, please stay at home other than to get tested. You can book a test, including home tests, online.

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Got symptoms? Get tested

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  1. a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  2. a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  3. a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Book a test, including home tests, online.

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Learn new skills

The Bedfordshire Employment and Skills Adult Learning team (BESS) has moved from the classroom, to online during the COVID-19 national emergency.

Until a month ago, 90 per cent of adult learning operated as a face-to-face service, but since the lockdown we have reshaped how the service is delivered.

Online and distance based courses currently include support with wellbeing and mental health, using IT to stay in touch and communicate with others, understanding children’s mental health and challenging behaviour and preparing for employment. More courses will be added over the next few weeks.

To see the courses available, for more information and to enrol visit the Adult Learning Courses pages.

The team also continues to provide a National Careers Service (NCS) for information, advice and guidance with finding work. To arrange one-to-one support please complete an online form and you will be contacted by an adviser.

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How are charities and other organisations helping us during the Covid-19 Pandemic?

  • Covid-19 is a particularly challenging time for people and families affected by genetic, rare and undiagnosed conditions. Genetic Alliance UK  hub has been set up to enable quick and easy access to relevant information and will be updated regularly while Covid-19 remains a threat to health.
  • The Princes Trust have pulled together some of the most useful advice, guidance and resources so 11-30 year olds can continue to upskill by developing their confidence and abilities during this challenging time, as well as find the answers to questions on work and self-employment. They also have a live chat for advice and guidance. https://www.princes-trust.org.uk/about-the-trust/coronavirus-response/resource-centre
  • Food can affect your mood! There is a link between what we eat and how we feel so it’s important to have a healthy, balanced diet for both your body and mind. Eating well doesn’t have to be expensive. Try these sites for brain food on a budget:
  • Coping as a keyworker – when you’re busy doing important work, it might not feel possible to take care of yourself. But even doing small things for yourself can make a big difference to your mental wellbeing, and there are lots of ideas you can try. National Mind now have a page dedicated to coping as a keyworker
  • Circle Integrated Care communication concerning running of services during the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Carers in Bedfordshire are still here for carers. They are still also accepting new referrals. Please call their telephone support service on 0300 111 1919 between 9.30am and 4.30pm, or visit their website.
  • Independent Age local volunteers stepping up to support their older neighbours across the UK.
  • Carers UK has produced recommendations for carers.
  • The Financial Conduct Authority has released information for consumers on personal loans, credit cards and overdrafts: https://www.fca.org.uk/consumers/coronavirus-information-personal-loans-credit-cards-overdrafts?
  • Pathway has called on the government for guidance on how best to protect homeless people against coronavirus.
  • The British Red Cross can help support people find missing family during Covid. Read more here
  • Full Fact has generated a fact check page on covid-19 to help dispel any false information.

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Are you a Volunteer and worried or anxious, or want to offload a bit?

  • Bedfordshire Local Emergency Volunteers (BLEVEC) has set up a peer support service for volunteers from voluntary sector organisations involved in the coronavirus emergency. BLEVEC volunteers have good listening skills and are able to provide emotional support.