NHS issues booster plea to people in Lincolnshire as COVID cases rise

People in Lincolnshire are being urged to get Covid-19 boosted ahead of Christmas and New Year.
Time to get your jabs for Christmas.Time to get your jabs for Christmas.
Time to get your jabs for Christmas.

With cases of COVID-19 on the rise again and people set to gather from across the country for the festive and new year celebrations, the NHS is urging anyone eligible to get back up to around 90 per cent protection against serious illness from COVID.

Cases of COVID are rising in the community with latest figures showing that there are over 1,000 patients with COVID-19 in East Midlands hospitals with 2,103 cases of COVID-19 in the East Midlands having been reported in the seven days up to December 3.

Hot on the heels of the two-year anniversary of the launch of the covid vaccination programme in the Midlands on December 8, Lincolnshire’s covid vaccination programme has reached a hugely significant milestone of its own.

“In December 2020 and January 2021, the first vaccination centres opened their doors, including our very own PRSA Mass Vaccination Centre in Boston, and the GP-run centre at the Meres, Grantham, and we haven’t looked back since,” comments Karen Hewinson, Head of Clinical Services, Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust.

Working with GP practices and community pharmacies, by the end of January 2021, one million vaccines had been delivered across the Midlands, the first NHS region to reach this milestone. In the months that followed, the Lincolnshire vaccination teams reached a series of their own milestones.

“By May 2021 our team at the Lincolnshire Showground had given 50,000 vaccinations, a few weeks later in June the team at PRSA gave their 100,000th vaccination and the team at the Meres, Grantham, reached their 150,000th vaccination. These numbers kept growing over the following 18 months, helped massively by the willingness of the Lincolnshire public to come forwards and get their covid vaccinations,” adds Karen.

Fast forward to December 2022, and the NHS across the Midlands has given over 27 million first, second, third and booster vaccinations, with Lincolnshire giving its two millionth Covid vaccination on Friday December 9.

“Hitting such a huge number is astonishing, especially when you think about what it represents. Two years ago we went from literally nothing to having a full-scale mass vaccination programme rolled out in a matter of weeks, something that had never been done before and that has saved lives across Lincolnshire and the country,” notes Karen.“During this time we’ve set up new vaccination sites, given the vaccines to children and adults, taken vaccines into schools, care homes and communities, introduced new vaccines to counter new variants of covid and - with our teams at out Mass Vaccination Centres and GP and community pharmacy-run sites across the county – rolled up our sleeves and done what we’ve needed to do.”

But it is not over yet. Right now, in addition to anyone aged 50 or over, the NHS in the county is especially keen to see people who are clinically at risk from Covid for their autumn booster. However, there are a wide range of reasons why someone may be considered at risk and not everyone at risk realises they are.

“Covid can make anyone seriously ill, but for some people the risk is higher. There are a wide range of reasons why you may be considered clinically at risk from covid, including many that some people won’t appreciate puts them at risk, such as having a BMI of 40 or over. Fortunately the good news for most people at risk is that getting vaccinated significantly reduces the risk to you,” explains Karen.

One group in particular where there seems to a bit of a gap, in terms of uptake of the covid autumn booster, is people with diabetes.

“If you have diabetes, you are strongly encouraged to have your covid vaccines, including your autumn booster. This is because people with diabetes are vulnerable to developing a severe illness if they get covid and the vaccines are the most effective way to prevent that from happening,” reasons Karen.

Anyone over the age of five who lives with diabetes, or cares for someone who does, can book their covid autumn booster through the National Booking Service or by calling 119. Alternatively, you may have been contacted by your GP practice.

There is more information for people with diabetes on the Diabetes UK website. The government-published Green Book includes information on the various conditions (and criteria) considered to be clinical risk groups (Table 3, page 19).

In addition to people with diabetes, and those aged 50 or over, the NHS is also keen to see children and adults aged five-49 who are in one or more of the other at risk groups or who are household contacts of someone with immunosuppression, including pregnant women, plus carers aged 16-49, and frontline health and social care workers.

The protection from vaccines reduces over time so the booster is being offered to those at greatest risk from COVID to increase their protection during the winter months when viruses spread most easily. This includes

everyone aged 50 and over and those with conditions that put them at greater risk from COVID, such as people with certain types of cancer (such as a blood cancer like leukaemia or lymphoma), chronic kidney disease,

diabetes and pregnant women. The booster offers protection against Omicron variants as well as the original COVID variants.

Many of the GP and community pharmacy-run covid vaccination sites around the county are offering people the opportunity to get their flu jab at the same time as their covid autumn booster, although the Meres Vaccination Centre, Grantham, the Weighing Rooms, Lincoln, and PRSA, Boston, are not and are only offering covid vaccinations.

Visit www.lincolnshire.icb.nhs.uk/grabajab for updates and locations to book a jab.

Alternatively, it is possible to have your autumn booster on a walk-in basis, provided you are 50 or over, at the Weighing Rooms, Lincoln, and there is more information at www.lincolnshire.icb.nhs.uk/grabajab about the days and times walk-ins are available.

Roz Lindridge, the NHS England director responsible for overseeing the vaccination programme across the Midlands, said: “It’s easy to forget the devastating consequences of COVID now that we’re back to a normal way of life but the virus is still with us and we need to do all we can to prevent another surge this winter and keep people protected.

“If you are yet to have your COVID booster or flu jab, please book in as soon as possible and take up the opportunities on offer around the country this weekend to ensure you have the best possible protection over Christmas and New Year.

”While over three million people have already had their autumn booster jab, we can’t be complacent. That’s why it’s crucial that all those eligible, from those at risk and pregnant women to frontline health and social care

workers, book their appointments as soon as possible to keep immunity levels high.

“We also need to ensure those eligible for their free flu vaccine are coming forward for necessary protection this winter. It is remarkable what the vaccines have achieved and they remain one of the best tools we have to

protect the most vulnerable and keep serious illness low.”

The NHS is also rolling out this year’s flu vaccine, with eligible people able to get their flu and COVID jab at the same time depending on local system arrangements. Currently, over 43 per cent of people (over three million) in the Midlands have had their flu jabs.

In line with JCVI advice, those eligible for an autumn COVID booster this year include:

- residents in a care home for older adults and staff working in care homes for older adults

- frontline health and social care workers

- all adults aged 50 years and over

- persons aged 5 to 49 years in a clinical risk group, as set out in the Green Book

- persons aged 5 to 49 years who are household contacts of people with immunosuppression

- persons aged 16 to 49 years who are carers, as set out in the Green Book.

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