The start of the Covid-19 vaccination program is a huge milestone, potentially the start of the tide turning against this awful virus that has killed 62,000 people so far in the UK, and 1.5 million worldwide. Local GP practices are due to start vaccinating in Ross-on-Wye this week, and despite the significant logistical challenges, we’re desperate to get going.
The main risk factor for severe Covid infection is age, so we will be starting with our most elderly patients, and then working our way down the priority list. Patients don’t need to contact surgeries about vaccination, as we will call patients in as stock arrives.
We are very grateful to everyone who has volunteered to help. Surgeries are doing this in addition to our normal work, so we appreciate your understanding that we may not be able to offer our usual number of appointments while our staff are also delivering the vaccine.
The Pfizer vaccine will be the first to arrive, but needs delicate handling, so isn’t yet considered suitable for housebound patients. It is important to recognise that vaccination works to reduce the severity of Covid infection. This means that people who have been vaccinated may still be able to spread Covid-19 to others, so it is crucial that we all continue to wear masks or face coverings, keep indoor spaces well ventilated and observe distancing & hygiene precautions such as handwashing.
It takes about 4 weeks to develop immunity following vaccination, so even those people in the first cohort will not be immune for Christmas. Cases are expected to increase following the end of lockdown, so we need to remain vigilant. Although the rules around mixing households over Christmas have been relaxed, we are still no safer than we have been. There is significant concern within health services that mixing at Christmas, even within the rules, will lead to a third surge of cases This has the potential to overwhelm an already overstretched NHS and cause further deaths.
The safest approach to Christmas is not to mix with other households outside your usual bubble. If you need to see others, it is much safer to be outside, so a socially distanced walk would be a good way to catch up. If you really must have others in your house, then it is crucial to ensure good ventilation by opening windows & wearing masks.
The Covid-19 pandemic has hit us all hard. This year has seen a huge effort from keyworkers and volunteers across the county, which has got us through it so far. The finish line is finally coming into sight, but we need to avoid a third surge of cases, as health services are already working at full capacity over winter. The most valuable gift you can give over the holiday season is health, so we all need to stand firm and stay safe.
Anyone having to isolate or shield will be able to access food and medication deliveries – for assistance, please ring the Ross Good Neighbours’ Helpline on 01989 313002 and someone will call you back or email firstname.lastname@example.org.