Covid vaccinations set to reach 500,000 first doses in Northamptonshire as experts step up plea to get protected
We're seeing a rise in virus patients from younger age groups and those who have not had their vaccine, says hospital chief
NHS chiefs stepped up pleas to get jabbed as Northamptonshire's vaccine rollout gets set to chalk up half-a-million first doses this week.
The astonishing effort to protect three-quarters of the county's population from Covid-19 in just 200 days has been achieved by a "titanic team effort."
Nearly 5,000 first doses were given in the county on Friday alone after the government opened up the offer of jabs to everybody over 18.
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Another 2,509 second people also jabbed with second doses on Friday means 348,269 — 53 per cent of the county population — are now fully vaccinated against the virus.
Staff at Northamptonshire's two acute hospitals at Kettering and Northampton were treating four coronavarius patients — including one in a critical care unit — by the end of last week after the sad death of a fifth patient on Monday (June 14).
A week earlier the hospitals had no Covid patients occupying beds, though, reflecting a doubling in the number of new cases of the virus in the county over the last four weeks.
Hospital CEO Deborah Needham confirmed on Friday that all the four patients being treated were under-50 and had not been fully vaccinated.
She said: "This is very different to the previous waves of Covid in terms of age of admissions as it is now in the younger age groups and those who haven't had their vaccine.
"So please go and get it as this virus doesn't stop affecting everybody so it's really important you go and have your vaccine."
The vaccine rollout in Northamptonshire started on December 8 and officials are "100 per cent confident" of meeting the government's target by offering a first dose to all adults by June 19.
Concerns linger, however, about uptake among some age groups and in certain areas of the county.
In Northampton less than two-thirds of the target population has had a first dose and 46 per cent a second jab.
Figures are even lower in Corby where 64 per cent have had one dose and 45 per cent are fully vaccinated.
That compares to the England figure of 72 per cent first doses and 53 per cent two doses.
Director of the Northamptonshire vaccination programme, Chris Pallot, said: "We've now given 830,000 doses and it's worth reflecting on that number and the titanic effort that's gone into delivering that.
"From our colleagues in primary care, the hospital hubs, community pharmacies and the vaccination centre at Moulton Park — this is a massisve team effort.
"We've still got a long way to go but I'd like to say thank you to every single member of NHS staff, every single volunteer that's come forward to help us because we couldn't have made this journey without you.
Chris Pallot, director of Northamptonshire’s Covid-19 vaccination programme, said: "It's very fair to say that uptake rates for many of the age cohorts have been slightly lower than we would be comfortable with in Corby and Northampton.
“Getting vaccinated is the single most important thing we can do to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities against coronavirus.
"We’re determined no one is left behind so I would urge everyone who’s eligible to come forward for their vaccine as soon as they are invited.
"The offer of a vaccine doesn’t expire so if you’ve previously received an invitation for your first dose but haven’t yet booked your appointment, now is the time to do so.
"And when the time comes for your second dose, please remember to keep your appointment because you need both doses to ensure you are fully protected from coronavirus."
■ Anyone with Covid-19 symptoms — a new continuous cough, loss of or change in sense of taste or a high temperature should self-isolate immediately and book a test online HERE, via the Test and Trace app or by calling 119
■ All those aged 18 or over are eligible for a Covid-19 vaccination. Click HERE to book or contact your GP