While the national news is focussed on the impact of new variants and mutations of Covid, the introduction of new travel and quarantine rules, and the possibility of vaccine passports, the vaccine programme progresses. But, up to now, the message from the NHS about Covid vaccinations has been “wait until the NHS contacts you”.
For those in the top four high priority categories, this message has now changed. The NHS is urging everyone aged 70 and over who has NOT yet been vaccinated to contact the NHS – either their GP surgery or by telephone 119 – to book their appointment.
And the advice for those with grandparents, relatives and friends over 70, if they are unaware that their relatives/friends have had a vaccination, is for them to encourage them to book an appointment as soon as possible. The government health advice remains clear that “vaccine is the way out of this pandemic.”
If there are health and social care workers, who are also among the top four priority groups for vaccination and are still waiting for a vaccination, they should speak to their employer. GP surgeries have been contacting those who are clinically extremely vulnerable for their vaccinations.
For the remainder, it is important that all patients are registered with a local GP in order to secure a Covid vaccination. The NHS is aware that some people are experiencing barriers when trying to register with a GP. For those with difficulties please contact East Sussex Healthwatch by telephone on 0333 101 4007. The NHS has emphasised that GP surgeries should not be turning people away who try to register without proof of ID/ address or immigration status.
Local virus rates
Other news this week included reports from the Office of National Statistics that parts of Sussex were among the areas of the UK to be worst hit by the second wave of the Covid – Hastings, Rother, Eastbourne and Arun. All these areas have recorded far more deaths in 2021 than they did during the early weeks of the pandemic. The greatest increase was recorded in Hastings.
This is somewhat at odds with the trends at the start of the pandemic when East Sussex had some of the lowest infection rates in the country. This is remains the subject of a study which has yet to report.
Vaccinations closer to Rye
Contact is being maintained with the clinical commissioning group which is setting the priorities for the vaccination programme. We learn that new centres are being established in other parts of Sussex (and Kent) but, as yet, there is no news about a facility closer to Rye and district. However, many locally have taken the opportunity of the choice offered by the national NHS letters (reported last week) by booking into the New Romney or Ore centres.
A summer holiday
Finally, the prime minister has just been reported as saying that the public should “get used to the idea of vaccinations and then revaccinations in the autumn, as we come face to face with new variants”. The idea of repeated vaccinations gives some idea about the government’s long term thinking for dealing with any new variant virus.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has just said at time of writing that “people shouldn’t be booking holidays right now, either internationally or domestically”. He explained that there are “quite a lot of different things that need to come together” before people can go on holiday, such as more progress with the vaccination effort, and a decline in Covid hospital admissions and deaths”. Later the prime minister underscored the uncertainty by saying “be patient with summer holidays; it is too early to make plans”.
Image Credits: Crown copyright 2020 .