Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent COVID-19 Vaccination Programme Bulletin

COVID-19 cases are rising to a worrying level. In just two weeks, Staffordshire’s case rate has risen by nearly 13%, while Stoke-on-Trent’s has increased by around 25% for the same period.

This is a stark reminder that COVID-19 is not to be underestimated and getting vaccinated is the best way to protect ourselves, our co-workers and importantly, our freedom.

Of concern across the country, are the many pregnant women in our intensive care units with COVID. Around 1 in 5 people receiving treatment because their lungs are too damaged for a ventilator, are pregnant and unvaccinated. Our midwives, GPs and communications colleagues are stressing just how important it is for pregnant women to come forward for their winter vaccines now. COVID and flu can be deadly to both baby and mother and it is too risky to remain unvaccinated with cases rising so rapidly.

This week’s media coverage is all about the importance of school vaccinations. This has been a huge logistical challenge and our school immunisation team have been working hard to visit schools over the past few weeks. With COVID cases climbing, we need to move quickly to vaccinate as many 12-15-year-olds as possible. This week we have written to all schools to reassure parents that there is a plan to visit all schools at least once in the coming weeks. However, we’re also putting in place additional clinics over half term and beyond, by using our pharmacies and other vaccination sites. This aims to give flexibility for parents and offers them the chance to go with their children. A lot of work has happened behind the scenes both locally and regionally to get the necessary authorisations to broaden the vaccination service beyond the school immunisation team. We’d like to thank everyone involved and encourage parents to phone 119 or use the national booking system to book their child’s vaccine now if they can travel, rather than wait for a visit to their school.

Our booster campaign for over 50s and at-risk groups is now motoring along, however, we need to see more people coming forward for their vaccine. We know that protection falls significantly after the first six months and our most vulnerable need their boosters. We have the vaccines available and we have sites across the county. If you had your vaccine in April, you are now eligible for a booster. Everyone will be invited by their GP practice, but you also don’t need to wait and can book on the national booking system, or phone 119 today. This week we are launching more walk-in clinics which are now authorised to offer booster vaccines (for eligible people who had their second dose in April or before). Read more below.

With winter not yet upon us, you probably already know of someone with a cold or winter bugs and sickness levels are escalating. Remember immunity is lower due to successive lockdowns, so we can’t be complacent. Nationally, a big campaign has launched this week to promote the importance of winter vaccines, whether flu, pneumonia or COVID-19. It can take two to three weeks for a vaccine to have impact – with the festive season upon us and people socialising more, you need to act now to have the best chance of a healthy winter.

Once again, as we enter winter, we all need to do our bit if we are to reduce the risk of restrictions coming back in. The NHS and social care are under pressure already with colder COVID-friendly days just around the corner. No one wants to return to restrictions, so we need to act now to get our vaccines, maintain good hand hygiene and ventilation and keep testing to manage this devastating virus.

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