COVID update March 6th, 2021:
As anticipated the rollout rate was below peak again this week because of vaccine supply constraints. However, as from March 11th it is anticipated that the amount of vaccine available will double particularly through extra Oxford AstraZeneca doses and from April this will be further boosted as the third approved vaccine Moderna comes online.
As a result, the capacity of the mass vaccination centres will move up substantially with the Brighton Centre due to administer 3000 jabs a day from March 15th, from 1500 currently. The temporary spare capacity at Brighton we saw the previous week has now been taken up so it can be several days ahead before you can find a free slot. My wife booked this morning and has her appointment a week on Monday for example, with the booster jab on June 2nd. When booking at the mass vaccination centres you will also be asked to book your second dose appointment within a 5-day window up to 12 weeks later.
As has always been the case if you do not want to travel to one of the mass vaccination centres (despite the attractions of free parking at the Brighton Centre) you will be contacted at some stage by your local GP hub to attend locally, but you will probably have to wait longer as they are still ploughing through the 7.3m plus in the large Cohort 6. That is why someone in their 50’s now may be vaccinated sooner through the vaccination centres over someone in their 60’s waiting for a local jab. The local GP hubs are also NOT routinely booking a second a jab date when you have your first and they will contact you some weeks later but again within the 12-week gap deadline
The mass vaccination centres have now moved on to Cohort 8 (55-59 year olds) so you can now book at Brighton, Chichester and Crawley etc if you are in that age group or above even before you have received your letter from the NHS centrally.
Remember if you are in one of the higher cohorts and have not had your jab for some reason you can also book in directly online. That includes:
- Not only if you are aged 55 or over but also
- If you are at high risk from coronavirus (clinically extremely vulnerable)
- If you are an eligible frontline health or social care worker
- If you have a condition that puts you at higher risk (clinically vulnerable)
- If you have a learning disability
- If you are a main carer for someone at high risk from coronavirus
Nationally, over 21,358,815 first doses have been given and the number of second doses now exceeds 1 million. That second dose figure will accelerate rapidly now as people who started getting their first Oxford AstraZeneca dose when it came online at the beginning of January come up to their 12-week booster dose gap. There are now 1034 GP led sites, 204 pharmacies and 130 mass vaccination centres up and running across the country.
A few people have mentioned adverse reactions and all serious cases have to be reported to the NHS and are published in their ‘Yellow Book’ data. There have been remarkably few however, and certainly no more than would be expected for other routine vaccinations for travel for example. Some people have reported light fever or aching arm after the first dose of the Oxford AZ vaccine or after the second Pfizer brand for example. For the Pfizer jab people are asked to stay at the vaccination centres for 15 minutes routine monitoring afterwards but every time I have been working at Lancing for example there have been no complications.
On 2 March the Office for National Statistics published new data on the levels of protection people have. They show that up to 11 February, 1 in 4 people are estimated to have antibodies against coronavirus in England, up from 1 in 5. The levels are highest in the over-80s, the first group to be vaccinated, showing again the protection from the vaccine across the country.
Additionally, a second piece of research, published on 1 March, shows that a single dose of either the Oxford or the Pfizer vaccine delivers protection against severe infection in the over-70s, with a more than 80% reduction in hospitalisations. It is great news that both vaccines work so effectively.
Figures have again shown a sharp fall across the board reflecting the 34.4% drop in infection rates week on week across the country, with hospitalisations down 29% and 242 deaths reported yesterday against 345 last Friday.
The number of COVID patients at Worthing Hospital has almost halved from 28 to 15 including 5 in ITU against 9 last week. At St Richard’s the figure is down to 20 from 36 with no patients in ITU at all there. There were sadly 2 further deaths at Worthing and 5 at St Richard’s.
At the Royal Sussex County in Brighton, the figures are equally encouraging down to 28 total patients including 10 in ITU against 47 and 18 respectively last week with a further 7 deaths.
𝐕𝐚𝐜𝐜𝐢𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 – 𝐋𝐨𝐜𝐚𝐥 𝐩𝐢𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞
- For those above the age of seventy in West Sussex the level of cover to date is above 95% and just about everyone who wants to be jabbed has been. The figure for those deemed ‘Clinically extremely vulnerable’ in West Sussex is now 89.1%.
- It is more complicated to gauge the coverage so far in the large higher risk Cohort 6 as it is not simply aged based, and it is likely that GPs will be continuing to work through this group for a while yet. However, it is estimated that around 60% of those classed as ‘At risk’ in Cohort 6 have now been vaccinated.
- Nationally opinion polls suggest that at least 94% of the population is intending to get vaccinated which is incredible and much higher than originally forecast, and that gives a very robust herd immunity. By contrast one poll in France suggested that fewer than half of their population intended to take the vaccine. That could have serious implications for travelling to and from France in future.
- Constituency wise over 36,215 people in East Worthing & Shoreham have now been vaccinated against 31,550 last week representing over 45% of the adult population. The highest in England is Havering at around 51%. By the end of next week it is likely that in East Worthing & Shoreham over half the adult population will have received at least their first dose. Despite fluctuation in how many days each week local GP hubs are able to operate due to vaccine availability locally we remain in the top quartile of constituencies for the level of vaccinations so far and well up to schedule. It is highly likely that productivity will step up from the week starting March 15th due to additional supplies and certainly the Lancing hub is anticipating operating throughout the Easter weekend so don’t go anywhere far– not that you can!
- I have received a number of concerns about the apparent spike in COVID cases in Worthing. I did put out further details on social media as this was due to a temporary increase in isolated cases. I have been told by the CCG that the fluctuation in the numbers in Worthing was largely driven by two inter-related care home outbreaks and a third establishment (i.e. not community transmission). The rate per 100,000 hit over 110 at one stage (compared to an England average then of 97.1) but the figures published are weekly rates and therefore take some time to ‘flush out’ of the calculations. The 7-day rate is now coming down and today stands at 77.8/100k more in line with an England average of 79.7/100k. In Adur the figure is down to 35.8/100k. As numbers are decreasing overall, outbreaks such as these will inevitably drive volatility/fluctuations in the 7-day rate and with figures so low it only takes a small cluster of people testing positive to produce an apparently high % rise.
- I have had complaints from some people in Worthing, especially in Findon Valley, about intermittent post deliveries and there are concerns that important letters about vaccination appointments could be delayed. I have taken this up with Royal Mail and apparently Worthing Sorting Office was particularly hit by a high level of absences caused by COVID and quarantining. I have been assured that all vaccination letters, which are clearly marked, are prioritise and additional staff cover has been brought in and deliveries are now returning to normal. Please let me know if you are still having problems in your area if you are a constituent.
Keep safe everyone and good luck to everyone returning to school on Monday