Covid update February 6th, 2021
The vaccine rollout continues at an impressive rate and remains well on target to have covered the top 4 priority tiers of most vulnerable people by the beginning of the week after next. The numbers of people vaccinated has exceeded 11m and yesterday the number vaccinated in a day was again just shy of half a million. The Government said yesterday it expects all 32m people in the top 9 categories to have been offered a first vaccination by the beginning of May. Of course, many will have received their second booster jab by this time too.
The February 15th target figure is unlikely to reach the full 14.9m in the top four priority categories as obviously some people will decline to have the vaccine for whatever reason, and it is of course not compulsory. The take up amongst the older population has certainly been very high though and well above 90% in most areas. It is also likely that where surgeries have exhausted going back on those who have not responded in the top 4 tiers that they will also get cracking on tier 5 patients before February 16th if they have available vaccine.
Tier 5 includes 2.9m people aged 65-69 whilst Tier 6 which involves everyone at high risk between 18-64 is the largest of the 9 categories by far with 7.3m people. There is likely to be a longer gap therefore until starting on Tier 7 of people aged 60-64 so don’t expect a call for a while if you are under 65 without a high-risk condition.
There was also good news this week from research in the UK on the AstraZeneca vaccine which suggests that the spread of the virus could be reduced by around two thirds from vaccinated people. This is backed up by results from Israel where they are predominantly using the Pfizer vaccine and remain well ahead of every other country having vaccinated almost 40% of their population so far.
Although not vital if you want to find out your personal NHS number you can access it here: https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/online-services/find-nhs-number/
I spent another very fulfilling shift at the Lancing Parish Hall vaccination hub last Thursday. My biggest concern was for the waistlines of the NHS staff and volunteers showered with generous gifts of cakes, biscuits, chocolates, spring rolls from grateful patients on top of the very welcome lunches now being provided by The Perch in collaboration with Lancing Lions. Fortunately, someone brought in a slightly healthier box of fruit too so the chocolate could be offset by 5 a day! Thank you to everyone for their kindness which OI know is greatly appreciated.
Local hospitals continue to see a fall in admissions and deaths which lag the fall in infection rates generally where daily new cases are routinely below 20,000 now, against over 60,000 at their height. However, conditions remain stretched and many elective appointments are still being delayed.
As of yesterday, there were 72 COVID patients in Worthing Hospital including 13 in ITU. That is down from a total of 93 on the previous Friday although the number of patients in ITU with COVID is up from 11. Sadly, a further 17 people lost their battle with COVID over the last week. At St Richard’s the total at 93 is little changed from last week’s 95 including 11 still in ITU. This perhaps reflects fact that infection rates in Chichester stayed lower for longer before moving up a while after a similar trend in Worthing and Adur.
At the Royal Sussex County in Brighton the fall is sharper down from 134 to 98 though again the number of patients in ITU is little changed at 34 just down from 35. As usual we are very grateful for the continuing hard work of all our NHS staff at every level.
𝐕𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 – 𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥/𝐫𝐞𝐠𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐩𝐢𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞
- Nationally over 98% of residents in adult care homes have now been vaccinated
- The Government has now increased the amount of doses on order across 7 vaccine providers to 407m, with new varieties likely to come on stream from next month on top of Pfizer and Oxford AstraZeneca being used in roughly equal measure though the OAZ version is much more versatile and portable and is being used for care homes and home visits especially.
- In Sussex, the three local authorities – Brighton and Hove City Council, East Sussex County Council, and West Sussex Council – have agreed with the local NHS that staff from special schools that provide care to their pupils should be eligible for the vaccine. Eligible staff can book a vaccination at nine locations across Sussex at: www.sussexhealthandcare.uk/workforcevax A decision on whether to priorities teachers in mainstream schools and nurseries who are not involved in ‘intimate care’ will be taken later.
Vaccinations – local picture
- Over 96% of residents in adult care homes across Sussex have now been vaccinated which is the highest rate in the South-East, and no mean feat given we have more adult care homes than anywhere else in the UK. There are 41 homes still to be covered because of COVID outbreaks and still only 1 in the East Worthing & Shoreham constituency.
- Over 89% of those aged over 80 have now been vaccinated in West Sussex; 82.7% between 75-80; 35.4% aged between 70-74; and 50% of those deemed clinically vulnerable. In all cases we are in line or ahead of other areas in the South-East.
- Out of an estimated 108,000 NHS and care workers across Sussex some 87,000 have so far been vaccinated. To this total will now be added those eligible from special schools.
- People who are housebound have been vaccinated from this week either by the local surgery staff or with the help of 4 roving teams from the Sussex Community NHS Trust. This will be the focus of next week’s work. If your surgery knows you are housebound, usually receive home visits and are in the current priority categories you will be contacted shortly but obviously this is a little more resource intensive and takes more time for the vaccinators to get round.
- The Brighton Centre hub will increase its daily jab rate to 2000 shortly and the new Crawley Hospital hub started work last Monday with help from the military. The queueing situation at Brighton has improved as people have taken heed of advice not to turn up more than 10 minutes before your appointment.
I have received complaints that some people not in the top 4 priority tiers have been accessing vaccinations at Worthing Hospital and that there are many appointment slots going spare. There have been limited cases of this because the Hospital is intended primarily for NHS and care staff as well as inpatients and others coming to the hospital anyway. This is not as easy to pace as working through a defined list of patients that each GP surgery has. As they are using the Pfizer vaccine where part used vials cannot be carried over to the following day some people are being called who are able to come in at very short notice rather than the vaccine going to waste. Across Sussex the wastage rate is as low as 0.02% which is very impressive. At Lancing they tell me they have not lost a single vial so far. The CCG have now been redirecting some of the ‘surplus’ vaccine to other centres where this is possible particularly as availability to some of the GP run hubs may be in shorter supply next week.
*From Friday 5th letters from the central NHS system to attend mass vaccination centres such as the Brighton Centre are being sent out to 70-74-year olds. Remember that you do not need to take up that invitation to book online and you will still be offered a vaccination through your own surgery if you do nothing but it may just take a little longer. In West Sussex most people are staying local and the mass centres are working mostly on NHS and care staff and patients of East Sussex surgeries who are not as far advanced as we are in West Sussex.
*Because of the nature of the system people booking through the mass centres are given a date up to 12 weeks ahead for their second jab. People vaccinated through local hubs will be given a date for their booster jab at a later time through their local surgery in the same way they were invited for their first. Everyone will be called for their 2nd jab at the same rate within the 12-week window and sufficient supplies of the same vaccine will be reserved so no need to panic. Apart from the near half a million people who have already received a second jab under the original criteria the booster vaccinations will start from the beginning of March.
*Beware COVID-19 vaccination scams. Please be on your guard against fake COVID-19 vaccination appointment text and email messages. People are receiving a text or email notification of their ‘vaccination appointment’ and are being asked to confirm it by clicking on a link. This looks very similar to the genuine texts being sent to patients to arrange their appointments at the GP led vaccination services. The COVID-19 vaccination is ONLY available from the NHS and it is FREE – you will never be asked to pay for it or give your bank details.
As usual stay safe everyone and don’t forget to get your jab just as soon as you receive an invite.
COVID Update, 29th January