Devon’s falling COVID-19 case rates have slowed down and are now levelling off, mainly driven by increases in cases among younger age groups.
East Devon, South Hams and West Devon in particular are seeing an increase in cases among younger people.
In this update:
- COVID-19 case rates in Devon levelling off after previous decline
- Booster vaccinations begin in Devon
- Making flexible working the default
- Funding available for organisations to support self-isolating residents
- Don’t forget to have your second COVID-19 vaccine dose!
COVID-19 case rates in Devon levelling off after previous decline
COVID-19 case rates in Devon have been falling for some weeks, but that decline is now levelling off. At the same time, cases among the school age population have been rising.
Steve Brown, Devon’s Director of Public Health, said:
“We have expected to see a rise in the number of positive cases with the return of schools, college and universities.
“We’ve seen that previous decline slow down, with the latest data now indicating a levelling off in positive cases.
“We’re monitoring the data closely, and talking to schools and other settings where we are seeing a rise in cases, and advising on any additional measures that might be required.
“We will see if this levelling off in the data is followed by another rise in coronavirus cases in Devon, but I repeat, please do all you can to protect yourselves and others from this virus.
“The Delta variant, which is the dominant strain, is extremely transmissible and requires us all to remain committed to doing everything we can to halt its spread.”
- try to minimise your contact with other people
- keep your distance where you can
- try to meet other people outdoors
- if meeting other people indoors, please keep the space ventilated
- wear face coverings when in confined spaces with other people, including on public transport
- wash your hands properly and regularly
- if you don’t have COVID-19 symptoms then routinely test yourself twice a week with lateral flow device (LFD) tests
- if you show symptoms of COVID-19, self-isolate immediately and arrange a PCR test
Booster vaccinations begin in Devon
It’s less than 10 months since the COVID-19 vaccination programme began in Devon and in that time everyone over the age of 16 years old has been offered the jab.
More than nine in 10 Devon residents have taken up that offer and more than eight in 10 are fully vaccinated, which is excellent!
The NHS is starting to give booster vaccinations this week. They are being offered to people most at risk from coronavirus who have already had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
- people aged 50 years old and over
- residents in care homes for older people
- frontline health and social care workers
- people aged 16 years old and over with a health condition that puts them at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19
- carers aged 16 years old and over
- people aged 16 years old and over who live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, or has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis)
In line with advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) people will receive either one dose of the Pfizer vaccine or half a dose of the Moderna vaccine at least 26 weeks (six months) after they had their second jab.
The NHS will let you know when it’s your turn to have a booster dose, so please wait to be contacted via letter, text or email before trying to book an appointment via the National Booking Service. The majority of people who are currently eligible will receive their invite within the next three weeks.
COVID-19 vaccination programme for children and young people starts in schools
This week parents and guardians of young people aged 12 to 15 years old are being contacted to ask for their consent for the COVID-19 vaccination ahead of the jabs beginning to be administered in schools next week.
Alternative arrangements will be made to ensure those not in school are offered the vaccine, including those who are home schooled or in secure services.
The UK’s Chief Medical Officers all agree that while COVID-19 is typically mild or asymptomatic in most young people, it can be very unpleasant for some and
one dose of the vaccine will provide good protection against severe illness and hospitalisation.
Vaccinating 12 to 15 year olds should also help to reduce the need for young people to have time off school and reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading within schools.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has confirmed that the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective for 12 to 17 year olds following a rigorous review of the safety, quality and effectiveness of the vaccines in this age group.
The UK has also benefited from having data from the US, Canada and Israel, where vaccines have already been offered universally to young people aged 12 to 15 years old.
You can find out more about the COVID-19 vaccination programme for children and young people on the government’s website. There’s also a guide for eligible children aged 12 to 17 years old.
“Yeah, we’re saving lives doing it”
Sixteen and 17 year olds in Devon have been taking up their coronavirus vaccinations, with many recording their reasons for doing so on video to share.
Here’s what some of them said:
“I was a bit worried beforehand that it would hurt or take quite a while, and that I’d have to wait, but it was actually really quick and easy.”
“I was really nervous beforehand. I don’t really like injections so I was really worried about what was going to happen straight after and during. But it was really painless. I was really surprised.”
“I was questioning it for a while – just have it, don’t have it. And then I came to the choice that it’s better to have it than not to, just in case I carry it and pass it on, you never know.”
“I urge everyone to go and get the vaccine. It’s a really simple, easy process, and yeah, we’re saving lives doing it.”
Funding available for organisations to support self-isolating residents
We’ve launched a new fund to help community organisations provide practical, social and emotional support to Devon residents self-isolating due to COVID-19.
The grants of up to £5,000 for small projects and £20,000 for larger projects can be used to help those self-isolating with any caring responsibilities; accessing food and other supplies; practical tasks such as dog walking; and mental health and wellbeing support to address things like loneliness and boredom.
Groups can also use the money to improve their community’s awareness and understanding of the government’s self-isolation rules, including when you need to self-isolate, how long for, what it involves and why it is a vitally important part of slowing the spread of COVID-19, as well as what support is available.
Making flexible working the default
When the first COVID-19 national lockdown was announced on 23 March 2020, employers immediately made arrangements for their staff to work from home and adopt more flexible hours where possible. And now many organisations, us included, have decided that even as restrictions ease, it is worth keeping many aspects of this new way of working.
This week the government launched a consultation seeking views from individuals and businesses on proposals to reform flexible working regulations as part of their plans to modernise the way we work.
The consultation looks at a range of flexible working methods such as job-sharing, flexitime, compressed, annualised and staggered hours, as well as phased retirement – not just working from home.
You can respond to the consultation on the government’s website before it closes at 11.45pm on Wednesday 1 December 2021.
Don’t forget to have your second COVID-19 vaccine dose!
The NHS in Devon is reminding residents that it’s not too late to have their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
A study funded by Public Health England found that having only one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine gives around 30 per cent protection against the predominant Delta variant, but protection rises substantially after a second dose, so it’s really important to have that second dose!
But more than 13,000 people across Devon are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 more than twelve weeks after their first vaccine dose. They include over 7,500 people who initially had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
An AstraZeneca clinic for second doses is being run at Barnstaple Leisure Centre on Monday 27 September and can be booked via the National Booking System or by calling 119 and a pop up clinic is being held at Frankfort Gate in Plymouth on Thursday 30 September.
You can also book an appointment via your GP to have your second AstraZeneca vaccine dose at Dawlish Community Hospital, Newton Abbot Racecourse, Seaton Community Hospital, the English Riviera Centre in Torquay and Follaton House in Totnes or you can walk-in to Greendale in Exeter without an appointment anytime between 8.30am and 7.00pm daily.
Carers who would like to have their COVID-19 vaccination but cannot leave those that they care for can get help through the Devon Vaccine Support Team by emailing email@example.com or calling 01752 398836. The team can also help people who aren’t registered with a GP and can’t book through the National Booking System.
Final chance to redeem your free school meal summer holiday voucher codes
📢 Did you receive a code to get supermarket vouchers for the summer holidays because your child is eligible for free school meals?
⚠️ Please be aware that the code expires at midnight on Wednesday 29 September! Use it as soon as possible to get your vouchers!
✅ Once you’ve got your chosen supermarket vouchers, they are valid for three months.
👉 For more information visit the free school meals holiday voucher page on our website.
Furlough ends on Thursday 30 September
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough) ends on Thursday 30 September.
Some forecasters are expecting a small rise in unemployment as employers with workers on furlough decide they cannot afford to keep them on.
If you find yourself out of work, the main benefit for anyone losing their job is Jobseeker’s Allowance.
It’s worth £59.20 a week if you’re under 25 years old, or £74.70 a week if you’re 25 years old or over.
Universal Credit can also help with living costs.
And Pension Credit gives extra money to help with living costs if you’re over State Pension age and on a low income.
You can find local guidance and information about the impacts on our services on the Devon County Council website.