People in North East Lincolnshire started rolling their sleeves up in the fight against COVID a year ago today. Now the public is being urged to pull together once more to shield our most vulnerable from the looming threat of the Omicron variant of the virus.
Approximately 300,000 doses of COVID vaccine have been administered in North East Lincolnshire in the past 12 months. The discovery of the Omicron variant once again requires an extraordinary response from the NHS and its partners, and local health and care workers face the mammoth task of providing a booster vaccination to every adult in the borough in the coming weeks.
“This is a great achievement, and we are proud of each and every one of the health and care staff and volunteers who have contributed to the vaccination programme so far,” said the Leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, Cllr Philip Jackson.
“Very many hours have gone into this over the past 12 months with staff and volunteers making a lot of sacrifices. The statistics show this has definitely saved very many lives and kept countless other people out of hospital and prevented serious, debilitating illness.
“We now have a massive new challenge on our hands, but I am confident the health and care system and our local communities will once again come together to overcome the new threat from the Omicron variant,” he added.
Providing the booster to everyone will put enormous pressure on GP practices, and patients may find some routine appointments are put off until the bulk of the vaccinations have been given.
NHS North East Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group stresses only routine appointments will potentially be delayed and patients will be notified by their GP practice if this affects them. Patients are urged to be understanding of the pressures the booster roll out will pile on medical services.
“Unless your practice tells you otherwise, please do continue to attend booked appointments at your practice,” stressed CCG Medical Director Dr Ekta Elston. “This is especially important if you are seeing your GP because of worrying symptoms.
“If you have an appointment delayed or you find it is taking longer for your practice to respond to you, please be patient. Everyone in primary care is currently working flat out into the evening to ensure all our patients can get this vital protection against the Omicron variant which is undoubtedly coming to North East Lincolnshire.
“No one likes having their appointments rearranged, and we really don’t like having to do this but Omicron is such a threat, protecting our population is our priority so please be kind.”
Everyone over the age of 18 who had their second dose of the COVID vaccine at least three months ago can now book a booster jab online at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/ or by ringing 119 if they do not have access to the Internet.
Additional clinics are also being made available locally. Local walk-in sites are also regularly operating and you can find details of those on the CCG walk in clinic page which you can find at COVID Vaccine Drop In Clinics • NHS North East Lincolnshire CCG
“The booster jabs are very important, but it is also vital to remember that some people have yet to have their first and second doses of the vaccination and we would urge them to come forward,” said Dr Elston.
“In addition, and as people are out and about more in the run-up to Christmas, the messages around safe COVID practice must be shouted loud and clear. Wearing masks especially in indoor and busy places, keeping a social distance and washing hands thoroughly are as necessary now as they have always been.”