Coronavirus latest: 3,000 extra vaccinations in Luton after pilot programme
A pilot vaccination project in Luton led to 3,000 more jabs being given to residents above those registered that weekend.
Four of the local five vaccination centres were open towards the end of last month, with support from NHS England and the Department of Health.
The initiative was in response to a low vaccine uptake across certain parts of the community, the inaugural BLMK Clinical Commissioning Group governing body meeting heard.
The new organisation has been created from the three former CCGs for Luton, Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes.
BLMK CCG director of performance and governance Geraint Davies warned: "Despite Covid activity decreasing, we can't take our eye of the ball.
"As of March 29, our highest case rate is in Luton at 142.3 per 100,000, which is the highest in the East of England.
"Milton Keynes is at 52.7 cases, Central Bedfordshire at 42.6 and Bedford Borough 36.9 per 100,000.
"By March 31, just over 400,000 vaccinations have been given in BLMK.
"On vaccine take-up, it depends how you slice the data," he explained. "If we look at all of cohorts one to nine, we've done 86.8 per cent of the eligible population.
"If we exclude health and social care workers from those cohorts, we've done 87.6 per cent of the eligible population.
"And if you include everyone who's been vaccinated it's 51 per cent of BLMK, in line with the English average."
He told the meeting there are "areas of challenge in BLMK", which led to the pilot a fortnight ago.
"It enabled us to do 3,000 more vaccinations by people walking into the service, which is a fantastic outcome," he said.
"We've challenges across certain hard to reach groups, where there's low uptake across all four local authorities, concerning Bangladeshi and Pakistani Asians, and black African and black Afro-Caribbean residents.
"One of the key learnings from the pilot was the population will come forward when they're supported by their own local leaders in the community, which is crucial to us."
Leighton Buzzard GP Dr Chris Longstaff said: "That's very reassuring for me. As a system we're above the national average.
"It makes me wonder if the way we're presenting the data in the summarised sound bites doesn't quite give credit to what we've achieved."
Mr Davies agreed, saying: "I'll take that away about how we present the data, and we need to be open and transparent about the challenges we've got in the system."
Lay member Saqhib Ali, who chairs the CCG's audit and governance committee, said: "I'm aware Ramadan starts shortly.
"People have flagged up concern about whether they can take vaccine during the fasting hours, and whether there'll be availability outside of the fast.
"Has there been any progress made around this for evening sessions?" he asked.
Director of communications Jane Meggitt replied: "We're working with community and faith leaders, and through all of our different networks to get out what's open and when, and how to access it.
"If you're in Milton Keynes or Luton you'll want a different message, as you give people assurances on the safety of the vaccine and the accessibility."