We have a lot to think about this week, with news of COVID-19 vaccinations now available for 12-15-year-olds, government announcements about autumn and winter plans and a decision on booster jabs.
From next week youngsters aged 12-15 will be offered the Pfizer vaccination, already widely used in this age group in the USA, Canada and Israel.
Although children and young people may not get very ill with COVID, many have still suffered badly from the impact of the virus on education and mental health and wellbeing.
Vaccinating this group also aims to help slow the spread of the virus in the community.
Like any immunisation or vaccination, this is not compulsory and can only take place with consent. We will be providing more detail soon about how this will work locally.
In the meantime, do please keep encouraging children to follow safety measures like good handwashing, sneezing and coughing into their elbows and staying home if they have symptoms.
The announcement can be viewed here:
Government has also unveiled plans for tackling COVID-19 during autumn and winter in England, with the emphasis on continued vaccine and testing programmes designed to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed.
However this comes with a clear warning that the disease ‘remains a risk’ and with a contingency plan including compulsory face coverings and the potential for vaccine passports, which could come into force should the NHS face unsustainable pressure.
It’s worth mentioning that the latest Public Health England data shows we’re going into autumn with more cases, hospital admissions - and deaths – than this time last year.
We are now though far better placed to fight the virus, with more than 80% of over-16's now double vaccinated – more than 90% of the adult population.
These announcements back up Solihull Council’s own commitment to continue promoting COVID- safe behaviour – especially as more people return to workplaces and social mixing.
So, our message remains - as the Prime Minister said - get vaccinated, both first and second doses as soon as possible. Keep wearing face coverings on public transport and in crowded indoor spaces, maintain social distancing, choose outdoor gatherings and to work from home if you can, self-isolate if you have COVID or are an unvaccinated adult who is a close contact of a case – and download and use the NHS COVID App - The NHS COVID-19 app support website - NHS.UK (covid19.nhs.uk).
Details of the government plans are here:
Yesterday there was confirmation that booster vaccines will be offered to the most vulnerable from next week, following the same priority pattern as the original vaccination programme.
The NHS will contact people directly and, if you are eligible, I would urge you to grab the jab as soon as it is offered. More information is here.
Solihull’s latest local figures show 332 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to 10 September.
Options to boost uptake in the north of the borough are being developed, including the possibilities for more fixed or mobile vaccine provision. To be effective, this will involve our local community leaders and community champions.
Nationally, over four out of five adults have now taken up both COVID-19 vaccine doses and more than half of all 16- and 17-year-olds have already come forward for their first jab.
You can also book vaccine appointments online through the National Booking Service or by calling 119.
Patient groups and hospital staff have warned lives could be at risk from the treatment backlog left by the pandemic, with more than 5.45 million people waiting for NHS hospital treatment in England.
Remember - if you have an urgent but not life-threatening medical need, think NHS 111 first.
If you do need urgent care, NHS 111 can now book you in to be seen quickly and safely in A&E and can direct patients towards or book appointments for them at Urgent Treatment Centres, GP surgeries, pharmacies, emergency dental services and walk-in clinics.
Please be aware that Solihull Hospital does not have an Accident & Emergency Department and the Minor Injuries Unit is currently closed.
Director of Public Health, Solihull Council
Below are useful links including where you can get a vaccine, how to book, and how to get a test.
- Birmingham & Solihull NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Service – Birmingham & Solihull NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Service (birminghamandsolihullcovidvaccine.nhs.uk)
- What you need to know – Birmingham & Solihull NHS COVID-19 Vaccination Service (birminghamandsolihullcovidvaccine.nhs.uk)
- The NHS is also contacting people to bring forward second vaccination appointments, or rebook yourself on the National Booking Service.
- Access tests at our community test sites in Chelmsley Wood, next to the bus interchange, or Solihull High Street next to Halifax Bank.
- There are options to suit everyone – walk in and ask for an assisted test, collect a kit to test at home, order online for free home delivery or pick up a pack from participating local pharmacies.
- If you should get a positive rapid test result it’s vital to get a confirmatory PCR test within 48 hours. Check the Covid-19 mobile testing unit timetable here or book via the national PCR test booking system.
- Full government guidance on new rules around self-isolation is here. Remember if a PCR test confirms you have COVID, we can offer financial support when you self-isolate. We have increased the threshold on the scheme so that you can access funds if you earn up to £26,000 - full details here.
- We can also provide other help and support; you can find out more here.
- For the latest information see Coronavirus (Covid-19) latest information | solihull.gov.uk