New cases of COVID-19 are still high across the country, one in 50 people has the virus, 32,000 people are in hospital and the number of deaths is higher than ever before. This means that the NHS is under immense pressure.
Despite the good news about vaccines and the progress on getting the most at risk vaccinated, we must do more to work together to stop the spread of the virus, to protect the NHS and help save lives.
We must follow the rules strictly, even a small ‘flex’ can mean that someone at risk will catch the virus and become very ill. It is more important than ever that you remind your friends and family to Stay at Home to stop the spread of the disease.
People who have received their vaccination, or have had the virus, must not become complacent and everyone must still follow the rules. Although the vaccination will reduce your chance of becoming seriously ill we do not yet know whether it will stop you from catching and passing on the virus. So, it is still important to continue following the guidance in your local area to protect those around you.
Leaders of the local councils are appealing for all workers who can’t work from home to book a regular COVID test – as part of the rollout of mass testing of people without symptoms. With new Community Testing Centres open across the county, council leaders are calling for workers in all places allowed to stay open, to make testing part of their regular routine in efforts to identify more people who may unknowingly be carrying the virus.
We are seeing the biggest increases in the 19 to 34 year age bracket, with many in this age group not only likely to be working but also seeing more people, so we would appeal to working people of this age group in particular to get tested on a regular basis.
A fleet of Let’s Get Tested vans will also be setting up mobile Community Testing Pop-Ups across the county. You can find out more and book now at Welcome to the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Community Test Sites Appointment System (zipporah.co.uk).
We all need to stick to the basic rules of hands, face and space, work from home where we can and get tested if you are out working through lockdown.
This week the Government has announced that people aged 70 and over and those clinically extremely vulnerable to COVID-19 will now be invited to get their vaccinations as the NHS begins rollout of the vaccines to the next two priority groups. The move allows the NHS to further accelerate vaccinations of people most at risk.
Vaccinating the first two groups, care home residents and staff, and those aged 80 and over and frontline health and care staff, will remain the priority. However, vaccination sites which have enough supply and capacity for vaccinating further people are allowed to offer vaccinations to the next two cohorts. This new development forms part of the Government plans to offer the vaccine to all those in the first four priority groups by 15 February. Locally, we’re on track to meet this deadline, subject to the vaccine supplies.
Patients who fall into this category can either wait to be contacted by their GP or alternatively follow the booking process on the letter which will allow them to view availability at one of the larger vaccination sites or any pharmacy sites that are offering the vaccine.
It has been another busy week with the vaccine roll-out, with the national number of vaccines given now exceeding 4.7 million. The midlands region was the top performing nationally again this week, having vaccinated over 830,000 people. We are expecting to receive STP data over the coming days which will show our numbers with a breakdown by cohort.
A staff vaccination hub opened earlier this week at Queen’s Hospital Burton (QHB), providing vital vaccines to Team UHDB. The hub based at QHB is the second UHDB vaccine hub to open. The Royal Derby Hospital Vaccine hub opened on Tuesday, 8 December 2020 and has since administered over 10,000 vaccines.
This week our focus has been on final preparations for the large vaccination sites, with the first due to be stood up early next week. Again, this will be subject to the national timeline for rollout and also the vaccine availability. The first of our large vaccination sites will be located at the Daniel Platt Centre in Tunstall (this information is embargoed until 5pm today), with a further two planned in the South West and the South East. These sites are being managed by Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust (MPFT), but all partners have been involved in making these sites a reality, including estates and logistics support in the councils and programme support from the CCGs.
More vaccinations have begun to be delivered from a cricket club, a church hall and a mosque this week as the immunisation programme continues to accelerate. The Al-Abbas Mosque in Balsall Heath, a community centre in Walsall and cricket club in Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent are among 12 new West Midlands sites that have started to offer the service for those in the highest priority groups.
Nationally high street pharmacies, including a Boots and a Superdrug, began delivering vaccinations last week and another 65 pharmacy sites are joining the programme in England this week and early next week with more to come.
People invited to make an appointment through the new national booking service will e given a choice between a vaccination centre or a pharmacy service. It will not be possible to use the NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Booking Service if you have not received an invitation letter. It will also not be possible to get a vaccine at a vaccination centre or community pharmacy without an appointment.
Anyone in the highest risk groups who does not want to travel there, or to a largescale vaccination centre, can wait to be called forward by their local GP or hospital services by mid-February. If that is the case, or if they have received the vaccination through another route since the invitation went out, they do not need to do anything.
The first pharmacies in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent that are expected to be stood up and start vaccinating are:
Your thoughts on the coronavirus vaccine – we would like to know whether you intend to have the coronavirus vaccination when it is your turn, and if not, what concerns you have.
Getting the COVID-19 vaccination is safe and the best way to protect yourself and your family against Coronavirus. We are working incredibly hard to vaccinate as many people as quickly as possible, and those most at risk are being vaccinated first. Read more about the vaccine and how you will be contacted online.
We really value your thoughts and would be grateful if you could spend 10 minutes completing this online survey. This survey will remain open until Friday 12 February. Feel free to share the survey among your networks to help us gain a real insight into our population’s views on the vaccine and ensure the uptake of the vaccine is successful.
You can find out more information in the COVID-19 vaccination stakeholder bulletin here.
The NHS has teamed up with law enforcement and security agencies to warn the public not to fall victim to scams trying to exploit the coronavirus vaccine campaign.
England’s top GP has joined the head of Action Fraud, the National Crime Agency and the National Cyber Security Centre in issuing joint advice reminding people that the vaccine is only available for free on the NHS, and health service staff will never ask for payment to get it.
The warning comes amid a number of reports of criminals attempting, and in some cases succeeding, to steal cash or personal details from people keen to get the vaccine. Follow this link for details of some recent scams.
In other news Staffordshire Police has launched a new public survey today, ‘Your police. Your voice’, to invite residents of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent to share their views on crime and local policing. The first survey also includes some questions specifically around the policing of the Coronavirus restrictions so it will provide some useful insights to inform our future approach to compliance and enforcement activity.
The survey will be carried out on a rolling quarterly basis which will enable the force to get a better understanding of the issues which matter most to local communities.
This will help to ensure that policing services and resources are being delivered in the best way to address people’s concerns.
The survey is anonymous and consists of 32 questions, taking under 10 minutes to complete. It will be administered online using Survey Monkey, although hard copies can be requested. More information is available here: www.staffordshire.police.uk/yourpoliceyourvoice