With the World Health Organisation declaring the Covid variant Omicron (also known as B.1.1.529) a “variant of concern,” the government has announced that England’s Covid-19 booster campaign will be ramped up and other measures will be adopted, as below.
Booster jabs – Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna , dependent on supplies – will be offered to all over 18s by the end of January. People will be called forward by age group via NHS letters and texts, additionally:
- The gap between second dose and booster will be reduced from six to three months
- Severely immune compromised people will be offered a fourth dose of a vaccine
- Children aged 12 to 15 will be invited for second dose three months after first
- Face coverings are mandatory again on public transport and in shops in England
- Travel details will change. If you plan to travel for Christmas then do check the requirements for testing, quarantine and other restrictions
- Despite calls from some experts not to socialise unnecessarily ahead of Christmas, the government has said “We are not changing the guidance on how you should be living your life”
Accessing the Rye centre
Executive instructions for the next stage of vaccination are awaited by the Rye Vaccination Centre. As and when we know we will publish them on @ryepfizer. The NHS has said they will let you know when it’s your turn.
With demand increasing, we prefer patients to book. If you want to come to the Rye centre then reject other locations offered by the booking system and try again until Rye is offered. Rye opening times are published on @ryepfizer.
The Rye centre is in the Tilling Green community centre. Mason Road, Rye TN31 7BE. The clinical lead is by Clarity Chemists.
Scientists acknowledge that not enough is known yet about the new variant. They are waiting for clarity of three key factors before they will be able to tell what effect it will have over the next six to 12 months:
- How infectious is Omicron? Limited data from its origin in South Africa show that Omicron is very infectious
- What will be the impact of this new variant on health outcomes, particularly hospitalisations and deaths?
- What will be the potential for Omicron to erode the immunity afforded by current vaccines? Will vaccines be less effective at stopping transmission and reducing the need for hospital treatment?
Keep up with the mitigations
What is clear that we all need to continue to do the things that we should already be doing to get through the harsh winter months:
- Get vaccinated or boosted, to protect ourselves
- Use home-testing kits to ensure that we are not infecting others
- Wear face coverings in enclosed places such as public transport and shops; and being attentive to reduce close contacts
Image Credits: Anthony Kimber .