Jab chiefs in Milton Keynes planning COVID-19 vaccination version 3.0 from later this year

Health chiefs in the Milton Keynes area are planning to give the over 50s booster covid-19 vaccinations at the same time as annual flu jabs later this year and into the future.

But a meeting yesterday (Wednesday) heard that the precise details of coronavirus 3.0 are not yet known in detail.

That provoked a plea from the chief executive of Milton Keynes Council for health leaders to “let us know as soon as possible” so services can be planned.

“We’re in  a bit of an information vaccuum at the moment,” said MK Council chief executive Michael Bracey at the health and well-being board.

“I appreciate this is a fast moving situation but for us to be able to assist we need a bit of lead in time so we can get our act together.

“We look forward to playing our part in what comes next but just a plea to let us know as soon as possible.”

And council leader Pete Marland (Lab, Wolverton) queried at what point the covid vaccination campaign would be absorbed into “business and usual” and look more like the annual flu jab.

He spoke of a situation where “millions of pounds are showered on us to fulfil this” while other health targets are still needing to be hit.

“It’s not a sustainable model,” he added.

Geraint Davies, the director of performance and governance at NHS commissioners in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes, said he would answer the best he could with the information he had.

“We are being asked to plan for a booster programme in the autumn and the booster plan is looking at how do we link it into the flu vaccination programme,” he said.

“We’ve been asked to plan for the over 50s to get a booster,” he added. “We’re also looking at NHS staff and social care staff.”

“Unfortunately I can’t answer all of your questions now but I think part of what we need to do over the next two to three months is to understand how we make it part of business as usual.”

Mr Davies added: “I think the key thing will be whether or not the flu vaccine and the covid vaccine can be administered at the same time. At the moment we haven’t got that information.

“At the moment we’re planning on administering them at the same time but that might not be the situation come the autumn.”

Vicky Head, the director of public health in MK and Bedford, said: “There are all manner of things that we would like a clearer sense of strategy on in the longer term and vaccination is one of those.

“There is a lot that we simply don’t know and where we are going to need more data, including how long immunity lasts. Only time will tell that.

“We would all really like a bit more strategic steer.”