Rallying call to Waveney to get Covid booster jab as cases rise
- Credit: Mick Howes
Get it booked and get boosted!
That is the rallying call echoing out across Waveney as Covid-19 cases rise with Omicron now the dominant variant.
It comes as thousands more Covid-19 booster jabs are being delivered in Norfolk and Waveney - with health chiefs urging people aged over 18 to book a COVID booster vaccination appointment online via the national booking service - or call 119 - if it's been three months since your second dose.
A plea has also been issued for people to help the NHS in Norfolk and Waveney hit the government's ambitious target to accelerate the roll-out of Covid-19 booster jabs.
The call for volunteers and retired professionals to help deliver the booster jab roll-out comes from health bosses at Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group - with NHS Reservists and community volunteers needed.
A spokesman for the NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG said: "Following the government’s recent announcements to rapidly expand the Covid booster programme in response to the Omicron variant, the Norfolk and Waveney health and care system is working to significantly ramp up the number of available appointments at vaccination clinics.
"Vaccination clinics will be extended into evenings and weekends to provide additional pre-bookable booster slots that will be required to meet the government’s ambition to get those aged 18 and over boosted by the end of December."
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The latest figures - as of December 11 - showing the uptake of people in East Suffolk for those aged 18+, has 56 per cent of the 203,204 population having had their third dose - which equates to 112,944 people.
That leaves 90,260, as of last Saturday, still to have a booster jab - however, that number is likely to have decreased since the recent government announcements.
A 'pop up' vaccination clinic attracted a good turnout in Lowestoft this week.
Vaccination teams offered first, second and booster vaccinations - for people aged over 30 - at Crown Meadow, home of Lowestoft Town Football Club on Love Road on Wednesday.
Sue Medley, Senior Community Intervention Officer at East Suffolk Council said the council's community intervention team were working in partnership with the NHS community vaccination team to "answer any Covid-19 related questions" while offering first, second and booster doses on the day.
"It has been busy and we've seen a steady stream of people," she said.
"We have had a mix of people - including some who are having the booster and others having their first or second dose."
While walk-in clinics for boosters are not currently available in the north east Suffolk, if you live in Lowestoft, Southwold, Halesworth, Beccles, Bungay or the surrounding areas you can book your booster online or by calling 119.
A NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG spokesman said: "Appointments on the National Booking System become available in line with vaccine supply and the availability of vaccinators, so people are urged to keep checking the portal as additional appointments are added on a regular basis.
"If there are no appointments in your local area, do keep trying as appointments are added throughout the day."
Howard Martin, director of population health management and health inequalities at NHS Norfolk and Waveney CCG, said: “This next phase of the vaccination programme is the most challenging and complex to date.
"We are putting extra capacity in place to ensure that everyone aged 18+ is given the chance to book a booster by the end of December, when they are invited to do so.
“We’re pulling out all the stops so we can deliver the number of vaccines needed to meet the national ambition by the end of December.
“We have already made an exceptional start to the booster programme.
"The Norfolk and Waveney system is the second highest performer for booster delivery in the East of England but we know that the next three weeks will be incredibly challenging."
Pressure on GPs
Health bosses insisted the region's GPs were not being told to cancel all appointments, although they said some services would be put on hold.
Mr Martin said: “GP practices have been asked by NHS England to provide additional support to booster delivery and - whilst this may mean that some routine primary care services are put on hold in the short term."
Dr Tim Morton, chairman of the Norfolk and Waveney Local Medical Committee, said: "It's going to be quite a challenge to undertake the sheer numbers of booster vaccines, especially at a time when GPs are working at full capacity, just meeting non Covid demand.
"On top of that is the fact many practices like mine are still giving Covid and flu vaccines."
Dr Morton, a partner at Beccles Medical Centre, said: "What I am saying to patients is that we are there to treat you. We will be seeing all urgent cases.
"We will be assessing all other cases, so we don't put patients at risk."
Matthew Goddard, managing director of Picture Studios in Lowestoft and Norwich, said: "As a business I don’t feel we have been any further affected by the new Omicron variant.
"Since our return during the pandemic we have come to notice that our original routines and things like our regular peak times have changed.
"At Picture Studios we offer many gift ideas that can be purchased online through our website or in the studio directly.
"Christmas is a popular time for these and initially we thought we may see a shift in online purchases with people not coming into town, however our direct purchases face to face have been just as busy as normal."