COVID-19 case rates across Devon continue to be high. Rates have been falling over the past few weeks however there are early indications that this reduction is slowing. It is anticipated following the return to school that we will start to see increases in cases, particularly in school aged children.
Currently the highest COVID-19 case rates across Devon are within the school age population, particularly in North Devon and Exeter.
In this update:
- Fresh appeal to the ‘not yet boosted’
- England to return to Plan A
- Director of Public Health Devon advises caution in response to PM’s statement
- Pregnant women urged to have their vaccine as cases rise
- Local charity receives Queen’s Award for their support during lockdown
Fresh appeal to the ‘not yet boosted’
Overall take-up of COVID-19 booster vaccinations in Devon so far is good, but we can do better.
More than 80 per cent of eligible people aged 50 years old and over have had the jab, but people younger than that have been a bit slower to get it done. And the younger we go, the take-up of the booster vaccination gets lower.
For some people there’s likely to be a good reason for not having had their booster jab yet, such as a recent COVID-19 infection or because 12 weeks haven’t yet passed since their second vaccine dose.
But for others, especially those aged between 25 and 50 years old, who by now should have had sufficient time to be ready for their booster, but haven’t yet come forward – this appeal is for you.
Experts say the booster jab makes a big difference to our immune system. It’s not a ‘nice to have’, after the first and second doses. It’s as important, if not more so for the additional protection it gives us against getting seriously ill.
So please come forward, if you’re eligible for the booster and haven’t yet had it.
There are plenty of opportunities to get it now, with or without an appointment, at walk-in sites and vaccination centres across Devon.
And for those young enough, or old enough to remember the classic arcade games first time round, here’s a little video to make you smile, and encourage you to get your booster as soon as possible.
England to return to Plan A
- the government is no longer asking people to work from home if they can. People should now talk to their employers to agree arrangements to return to the office
- face coverings are no longer required for staff and pupils in secondary schools and college classrooms
- from 27 January, face coverings will no longer be required for staff and pupils in communal areas of secondary schools, nor for staff in communal areas of primary schools
- from 27 January, there is no longer a legal requirement to wear a face covering in public indoor places. The government suggests that you continue to wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces where you may come into contact with other people you do not normally meet
- from 27 January, venues and events will no longer be required by law to check visitors’ NHS COVID Pass. The NHS COVID Pass can still be used on a voluntary basis
Director of Public Health Devon advises caution in response to PM’s statement
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has outlined his intention for the country to return to ‘Plan A’.
Responding to the statement, Steve Brown, Devon’s Director of Public Health, said:
“Case rates are still high and it is important that people understand that this announcement is not one of ‘freedom day’, but a reverting back to plan A.
“Omicron is by no means a mild virus, and the symptoms to those who are unvaccinated or who have underlying health concerns can be extremely serious if not life threatening.
“So while the Prime Minister is indicating light towards the end of the tunnel, my advice is that we are not yet out of the woods.
“We must stay vigilant and alert to risk that is still around us.
“Please be cautious, let’s use our common sense, and continue to follow good basic public health advice.”
If you are concerned about change and feeling uncertain
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a roller coaster, and continues to impact all of our lives.
Even the latest changes announced this week will, no doubt, cause concern for some and be met with joy for others.
We’re all different, and we all see things from our own perspectives.
But if you’re concerned about change and are feeling uncertain right now, there is some information online that might help you.
It has 10 things that you can do to help deal with change and look after your mental wellbeing in the face of uncertainty, as well as places you can go to get further free advice and support.
Pregnant women urged to have their vaccine as cases rise
Leading health experts are renewing their calls for pregnant women to have their COVID-19 vaccine, as cases of coronavirus in Devon reach their highest level since the pandemic began.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recently announced that pregnant women should be considered a clinical risk group.
And now, a Plymouth teacher who was hospitalised while pregnant with flu, shortly after catching COVID-19, is appealing to pregnant women to have both the flu and COVID-19 vaccinations. Christine believes that having the jabs helped to prevent her from becoming more seriously ill. She said:
“It was really horrible. I became severely dehydrated. My baby wasn’t getting the reserves it needed and the midwives became very concerned. It was all a bit scary, especially when there were no foetal movements for 24 hours and my temperature wasn’t coming down. Thankfully I’ve recovered and my baby is okay, but I certainly never want to experience that again.
“My advice to anyone would be to get every vaccine you can. Especially if you’re pregnant, it makes sense to take anything and everything you are offered to protect both you and your baby. They wouldn’t be offered if they weren’t safe for both of you.”
More teens encouraged to get boosted
Young people aged 16 and 17 years old can now book a COVID-19 booster vaccination appointment online.
Top-up doses of the vaccine are available at least three months after you had your second dose.
Invites have been sent encouraging teens in this age group to book their appointment through the online booking service, calling 119, or by finding their nearest walk-in site to get vaccinated without needing an appointment, as soon as they can.
Clinically at-risk 12 to 15 year-olds or those who live with someone who is immunosuppressed can now also have their booster jab three months after their two primary doses, with those who are severely immunosuppressed able to get their booster after a third primary dose. Those eligible in this age group can go to a walk-in vaccination site or wait to be contacted by a local NHS service such as a GP surgery and book an appointment with them.
A booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine tops up the protection you have from your primary doses of the vaccine, making it effective longer-term and helping prevent you getting seriously ill if you catch the virus.
Local charity receives Queen’s Award for their support during lockdown
The charity, Westbank, who we work with to deliver a number of community services, has been presented with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services.
The Queen’s representative in Devon, the Lord-Lieutenant for Devon, David Fursdon, presented it to them recently.
It’s for the amazing work Westbank’s Neighbourhood Friends did during the coronavirus lockdown period.
The Neighbourhood Friends help vulnerable or frail adults, from Exeter, East and Mid Devon, to stay out of hospital or to have shorter hospital stays. They match volunteers up with people who need help, for example, moving furniture so that there’s room for hospital beds or other equipment in their home; installing key safes so that care workers can gain access; and providing company and a warm drink to people following a stay in hospital.
Over the lockdown period, they helped around 2,030 people.
Jenny Luscombe, the charity’s longest serving volunteer said:
“It was such a pleasure to meet the Lord Lieutenant of Devon and an honour to have received The Queen’s Award, which is the equivalent of receiving an MBE for people like myself who give their time to volunteer.”