Between 2,000 and 3,000 people a day are now receiving Covid jabs at seven vaccination centres in Milton Keynes

MK's Covid vaccination centres are working so efficiently that many have almost completed their list of patients aged over 80, the Citizen can reveal
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And today the doctors involved in what is the biggest vaccination programme in history told Citizen readers not to panic and to wait their turn - which could come even sooner than they think.

By the end of the month, doctors confidently predict that every resident and staff member in every care home in Milton Keynes will have received their jabs.

Already 75 per cent of MK's population of over 80s have received their first jabs, which will give them immunity for many weeks.

The vaccine are preparedThe vaccine are prepared
The vaccine are prepared

Some of the city's vaccination centres are finishing their lists of over 80s and moving on to the next priority groups in their area, people aged 75 and over and the extremely clinically vulnerable A couple of them are even ready to offer jabs to the fourth priority groups - the over 70s and the clinically vulnerable.

There are seven MK vaccination hubs, each comprising a Primary Care Network of a cluster of GP surgeries. The final two opened at the weekend to ensure every patient in every surgery in MK is now covered.

Nobody will have to travel more than a few miles to the hubs, which are at Whaddon and Water Eaton health centres in Bletchley, Westcroft health centre, Newport Pagnell Medical Centre, CMK Medical Centre (on Bradwell Common), Whitehouse health centre, Oakridge Park Medical Centre and Asplands in Woburn Sands.

And in two weeks time, to speed up the city's programme even further, a new mass vaccination centre will open at Saxon Court, the council's former housing offices, in Central Milton Keynes.

Newport Pagnell Medical Centre is one of seven hubs in MKNewport Pagnell Medical Centre is one of seven hubs in MK
Newport Pagnell Medical Centre is one of seven hubs in MK

Today the Citizen spoke to Dr Omotayo Kofeji, a GP at Newport Pagnell Medical Centre, to discover what it was like at the vaccination frontline.

"It's pretty hectic and very, very full one," he said. "We opened on Saturday with seven teams working between 10am and 6.30pm. On Sunday we worked from 8.30am to 6.30pm and weekdays we're running between 8am and 6.30pm.

The Newport Centre is giving between 300 and 400 vaccines a day. Other centres, depending on their size, are giving slightly more of less but between them they are thought to be averaging up to 3,000 shots a day.

"Staff and volunteers from all the surgeries are helping and everybody is keen to get it done", said Dr Kofeji. "There's so many people involved in making this work and planning this. It's a national crisis, therefore we will all do as much as we can to help."

A vial can give up to six doses of vaccineA vial can give up to six doses of vaccine
A vial can give up to six doses of vaccine

Meanwhile, he said, GPs are still running their routine surgeries and phone consultations with sick patients.

But, despite the pressure, the atmosphere is often cheery as the vast majority of people are enthusiastic and grateful to get their jabs. For the staff and volunteers though, it can be a tense race against time behind the scenes of the socially distanced queues to ensure the vials of precious vaccine are properly prepared.

Currently the centres are using stocks of the Pfizer vaccine, which has to be stored at extreme temperatures and defrosted. Each vaccine has to be diluted with a saline solution then carefully shaken precisely 10 times - a laborious but crucial task often carried out by pharmacy volunteers.

The vial contains five doses but doctors quickly discovered that, with careful preparation, there is actually enough for six doses. The shelf life of the vaccine, once prepared and ready to inject, is a frustratingly short two or three hours. Sometimes, said Dr Kofeji, a dose or two is left at the end of the day, when the queue of satisfied patients has finally disappeared,

Determined not to waste a precious drop, each centre has prepared a special 'last minute list' with names and contact numbers for people next in the priority system who could be offered a jab at literally a few minutes' notice. These could be healthcare workers, people over 70 or people who are clinically vulnerable.

"The Pfizer vaccine is so delicate that everything has to run like clockwork. It can be a race against time. But we would never throw away a drop," said Dr Kofeji. "The AstraZeneca Vaccine is much easier and we tend to use that to take out of care homes to vaccinate people there."

Just five days after opening, the Newport Pagnell centre has proudly ticked off 99 per cent of its care homes and 80 per cent of over 80s from its Covid jab list. Soon it will be moving on to the other priority groups.

"People need not panic, their turn will come. They do not need to ring their surgery and chase their vaccine as this just blocks the lines for everyone. They will get a letter or a call," said Dr Kofeji.

Most importantly he is urging people, when their time comes, not to arrive EARLY for their vaccine appointment.

"It can cause so many problems with manging queues and trying to avoid congestion and keep people safe. We are asking people to come on time - but please don't be early."