'Check and get' call for Covid vaccines as rates spike in some parts of Lancashire
Lancashire’s public health boss says that rising Covid infection rates in parts of the county are a “cause for concern” - and is urging people who have not yet had a jab to check whether they are currently eligible and get one as soon as they can.
Dr. Sakthi Karunanithi, director of public health at Lancashire County Council, has warned it is particularly worrying that cases are largely being found in younger people who are not yet vaccinated.
It comes after new research found that the two most common vaccines in use across the UK are effective at preventing symptomatic disease from the variant of the virus first discovered in India, which is driving some of the transmission in Lancashire and neighbouring areas including Bolton.
However, the Public Health England study revealed that two doses are required before significant levels of protection are achieved. One shot of both the Oxford AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines is just 33 percent effective against the Indian variant three weeks after injection, but that rises to 88 percent for Pfizer and 60 percent for Oxford AstraZeneca two weeks after a second jab.
It is thought that the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine may be more effective against the variant than those figures suggest, but that is not yet reflected in the data because second doses were rolled out later than those of the Pfizer jab.
The Lancashire-wide Covid case rate stands at 33.7 for the week to 18th May, above the England average of 21.3 - but there are wide variations within the county (see below).
The current national eligibility criteria means anybody aged 32 or over - or who will turn 32 by 1st July, can book their jab.
Anyone over 18 is also eligible if they:
***have underlying health conditions making them vulnerable to Covid;
***are living, caring or working with anyone with underlying health conditions;
***are working in frontline health and social care roles,
***have a learning disability;
***are acting as the main carer to someone deemed vulnerable to coronavirus - whether in a paid or unpaid capacity. No proof of their carer status is required.
Speaking of his concern about the spread of the virus amongst younger age groups, Dr. Karunanithi said: "This is why it is so important that anyone who has not yet received their first Covid jab should check their eligibility and book without delay.
"This is why decisive action is being taken to tackle the spread of this particular variant.
"We believe there are people out there who are eligible to receive the vaccine, but do not realise it, such as people who look after their family members or those who work with someone with an underlying health condition.
"Booking your appointment is really easy and I encourage everybody who is over 18 and eligible for the vaccine to book it without delay.
"If you have already had your first dose, wait until you are called up for your second jab and book your appointment then.
"Vaccinations are the most effective way we can combat the virus and resume normal life,” Dr. Karunanithi added.
HOW TO BOOK
Anybody eligible for a jab can book via the dedicated online system for Lancashire and South Cumbria or by calling the national booking service on 119.
LANCS COVID CASE RATES (cases per 100,000 people in the week to 18th May)
Blackburn with Darwen - 215.1
Blackpool - 21.5
Burnley - 60.7
Chorley - 55.8
Fylde - 9.9
Hyndburn - 54.3
Lancaster - 17.1
Pendle - 44.5
Rossendale - 57.4
South Ribble - 20.8
West Lancashire - 9.6
Wyre - 13.4
LANCASHIRE AVERAGE - 33.7
ENGLAND AVERAGE - 21.3