18 August – message from Solihull’s Director of Public Health, Ruth Tennant


Despite how well we are doing with the vaccination programme in Solihull, our infections rate has increased this week to 375 cases per 100,000 people (week 6 to 12 August).  That equates to another 816 people becoming infected with COVID.

The age group most affected is young people up to 24 years old. Rates for 17-18 years olds who are not yet fully vaccinated are 939 per 100k – or nearly 1 in 100 and 733 for 20-24 year olds. We are also seeing higher rates in Smith’s Wood, Kingshurst and Fordbridge.

Vaccine works and our high vaccination rates are the reason we have been able to open up and start getting back to usual. But, while we still have high rates of COVID circulating, we run the risk of new variants emerging, so it’s vital we keep rates down and get vaccinations up. We still have people going into hospital with COVID and there are currently around 35 people in intensive care in our large local hospitals serving Birmingham and Solihull.

Vaccination needs two doses to work really well. So, if you haven’t yet had both doses, you may still get and transmit COVID to other people. If you’re vaccinated, you’re much less likely to get very ill. Although you can still catch COVID and pass it on after you’ve been vaccinated, this is less common in people who’ve had both doses. And if you do catch COVID after vaccination, you’re also less likely to get Long-COVID.

We have seen huge numbers being vaccinated locally. 85% of people aged 16 and over have had with one dose and 75% have had both doses. This means that our local doctors, nurses in general practice and other vaccination centres have delivered over 286,000 vaccinations in Solihull since the programme started. Vaccination is the number one thing we can do to control COVID and it’s never too late to get your first dose.

The mobile vaccine van has been very popular when it’s appeared in Chelmsley Wood and Mell square. The vaccine van will be in Mell Square again this Thursday and Friday (19/20 Aug), between 9:00am and 5:30pm, offering Pfizer vaccines to over 18’s only.

Please note teenagers within three months of turning 18 can now book their vaccine appointment online through the National Booking Service or by calling 119. 

Vaccination is now opening up for 16-17 year olds. So if you are in this age group or you have 16 and 17 year old sons, daughters, sisters or brothers, please encourage them to take up the offer of a vaccine as soon as possible. 

NHS colleagues have also reported that 1️ in 7 pregnant women admitted to hospital with COVID-19 symptoms needed intensive care and therefore they are encouraging pregnant women to come forward for their vaccine. Of course if they or their partner still have questions then they should speak to their GP or midwife.

And normal life is returning, albeit with some necessary adjustments to control the virus.  We have been working closely with a number of organisations to ensure events due to happen in the coming weeks are operated in a way which reduces the risk of COVID spreading at the event and would like to thank all the organisations for helping us to do this. 

Monday’s news around the changes to the self-isolation rules will ease the situation around what the media have termed ‘ping-gate’, but it’s really important that anyone who tests positive and unvaccinated adults that are close contacts of someone who has COVID, continue to self-isolate.

Those under the age of 18 and those who are double vaccinated (and received the second dose within the last 14 days) will not be required to self-isolate, even if they are identified as a close contact. 

Instead they will be contacted by NHS Track & Trace and asked to take a PCR test.

Close contacts of cases are at the highest risk of getting COVID so it’s really important to get a PCR test if you’re a contact of a case and are offered this.

The full government guidance 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. We can also provide other help and support; you can find out more here.

Ruth Tennant
Director of Public Health, Solihull Council

Below are useful links to find out where you can get a vaccine, how to book, and how to get a test.