The government has set out its Winter Plan for tackling COVID-19, as well as announcing boosters and vaccinations for 12-15 year olds.
Cases of COVID-19 in Stockport are currently at 352.7 per 100,000, or 148 per day. However, the remarkable vaccine programme continues to move at pace, with 84.7% of all aged 16+ now having received their first dose of the vaccine, and 79% of those aged 16+ having received both doses. For those yet to have both doses of your vaccine, book online or look out for this week’s pop up clinics. Walk-in appointments are also available at a permanent vaccination centre at Trinity Church, Bramhall Lane, SK3 8TP, running from Thursday – Sunday every week.
The borough’s Director of Public Health, Jennifer Connolly, has used her weekly statement on the coronavirus pandemic is outline what the government’s Winter Plan and expansion of the vaccination programme means for people in Stockport. She said:
This week, the government released its plan for protecting against COVID-19 as we enter the winter months. You can read more on the full plan on the government website. The plan sets out the initial response – Plan A, which focusses on vaccination; continued testing, contact tracing and isolation; and behaviours which reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The plan also describes the contingency measures that will be used if Plan A alone does not sufficiently control the virus. If the data suggests the NHS is likely to come under unsustainable pressure, the Government has prepared a Plan B for England. The Government hopes not to have to implement Plan B, but given the uncertainty, it is setting out details now so that the public and businesses know what to expect if further measures become necessary. These measures include communications; mandatory vaccine status certificates in some settings; legally mandating face coverings in some settings.
Also under the Winter plan, COVID-19 booster jabs are set to be available from next week, to ensure that everyone receives the maximum protection available from the vaccine. Vulnerable groups will be prioritised as before. This means that the priority groups will be:
– Care home residents
– Health and social care workers
– People aged over 50
– Those 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19
– Adult carers
– Adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals
The government is allowing all those eligible to receive their booster jab if it has been six months since their second dose. Please make sure you take up this offer from next week. Keep an eye out for our pop up vaccine clinics that will be administering booster jabs, and remember you can drop in to your local pharmacy to receive your booster jab. The national booking line is expected to open next week.
Care home workers must be fully vaccinated from November, so if you have not yet had both doses of the vaccine make sure you check the Stockport Clinical Commissioning Group website to see your full options for getting your vaccine in the borough.
In addition, we’ve seen an increase in cases among school aged children since the schools returned. This is in part due to the testing that took place as schools returned, so thank you to all involved in that. I urge all secondary aged children to ensure that they are continuing to test twice a week – it’s the easiest way to help keep everybody safe. Tests are free and available online, to pick up at your local pharmacy or library or from the testing site at Fred Perry House.
In addition to the booster programme, we also had the announcement this week that 12-15 year olds will be offer a COVID-19 vaccination. The decision to offer the vaccine follows the advice of the Chief Medical Officers that a vaccination programme for healthy children in this age group offers net benefit, will reduce ill health and importantly will reduce disruption to education. It is in line with advice from MHRA and JCVI that the vaccine is safe and effective.
The main purpose of the COVID-19 school age vaccination programme is to provide protection to the children who receive the vaccine, to prevent complications following COVID 19 infection and reduce disruption to children’s education. Vaccination may also help to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in the wider population. This offer will be made via school settings in the main, and if you or your child are eligible then further information will be sent out via your school. Further information about the vaccine can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-vaccination-resources-for-children-and-young-people.
Alongside vaccination, testing continues to play an important role in helping keep COVID-19 spread reduced. Remember, you should only do a lateral flow test if you do not have symptoms and you have not been contacted by NHS Test and Trace. If you have a new, persistent cough, a high temperature or are experiencing a loss of taste or smell, please take a PCR test instead: these are available to order online. Similarly, if you are a contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, you should take a PCR test rather than a lateral flow test, even if you have no symptoms.
As well as vaccination and testing, it is important to remember that we can all continue to apply the principles of hands, face, space and fresh air. Open windows and doors to ensure a room is well-ventilated, and always practice good hand hygiene by washing or sanitising your hands regularly and thoroughly.
Thank you to everyone in Stockport who continues to do their bit to help combat COVID-19.