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SKY HIGH: Concern over the uptake of covid-19 vaccinations in Teesside

SKY HIGH: Concern over the uptake of covid-19 vaccinations in Teesside

A volunteer stands outside a covid-19 testing facility in Stockton's Wellington Square, Image: Ian Cooper/Teesside Live

Public health chiefs on Teesside have expressed “major concern” over the uptake of covid-19 vaccinations in the area amid rocketing infection rates.

They said there were hundreds of people in hospitals requiring critical care who were largely unvaccinated, while many others in local communities still did not have the protection afforded by the vaccine.

Middlesbrough currently has the second highest level of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 population of any area in the UK – only being surpassed by Derry City in Northern Ireland.

In the past seven days it experienced 4,522 new cases of the virus and those are the ones that are known about with the true figure likely to be higher.

Hartlepool (2,765 new cases), Stockton (5,809) and Redcar and Cleveland (3,882) have the fourth, fifth and seventh highest case rates respectively in the UK per 100,000 population based on official Government data from the last seven days.

In response thousands more walk-in vaccination slots are being made available on Teesside, including at Middlesbrough FC’s Riverside Stadium, with extra ‘vaccine buses’ also being mobilised, and local GP surgeries and chemists said to be “continuing to work around the clock” to increase the number of jabs in arms.

In a joint statement, Mark Adams, the director of public health for South Tees, covering Middlesbrough and Redcar and Cleveland, and Sarah Bowman-Abouna, Stockton’s director of public health, said: “It’s a major concern at the moment that we have thousands of people who have not been vaccinated at a time when our covid infection rates are sky high.

“The threat of the omicron variant is serious.

“We would urge people not to take the chance and make the mistake of assuming they would get away with mild symptoms.

“We have hundreds of people in local hospitals at the moment requiring urgent medical treatment.

“The patients in critical care are largely unvaccinated.

“Being vaccinated is the single most important thing people can do to protect themselves.

“It’s not too late to decide to come forward for your free, safe and effective jabs.”

Across the Tees Valley as a whole there are 105,910 people who are eligible for their first vaccine that have not yet come forward, 111,228 eligible for their second vaccine that have not come forward and 114,435 people who still need their booster jab.

The statement added: “Thanks to the efforts of the NHS and partners across Tees Valley, including the MFC Foundation charity, we have thousands of walk-in slots available this month.

“Having your first, second and booster jabs as well as following the public health measures in place can help you live life as normally as possible in the months ahead.

“We know that the Government is looking at whether the booster will be needed for the NHS Covid pass in the future.

“Being vaccinated protects you, those around you and lets you plan ahead to live your life as you want to.”

Professor Neil Watson, who heads up the covid-19 vaccination programme in the North-East, said case rates were being closely monitored to see to what extent they turned into severe disease and hospitalisations.

He said: “Since omicron arrived towards the end of last year, we’ve been trying to understand it.

“What we do know is that two doses of Astra Zeneca, Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine were less effective against omicron than other variants that have presented.

“With three vaccines the response to the virus was much greater.

“Omicron is very much still widely in circulation and this is why we are asking people to come forward and get their booster before the end of January, so they have maximum protection.

“There’s plenty of vaccine available for everyone.”

Appointments for vaccinations sites can be booked through the National Booking Service website or by calling 119 between 7am and 11pm daily.

For details of where you can get a walk-in jab visit https://teesvalleyccg.nhs.uk/where-and-when-you-can-you-get-a-walk-in-covid-19-jab-in-tees-valley-3/

 

Words: Stuart Arnold, Local Democracy Reporter


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