Devon’s residents are being urged to “Get Boosted Now” as part of an urgent national appeal to give themselves better protection from the Omicron Covid-19 variant; which is much more transmissible than previous variants.
The NHS in Devon is working to increase the number of vaccine clinics and extend opening hours following the Prime Minister’s announcement last night (12 December) of the Omicron emergency booster mission. People in Devon are being thanked for their patience while those arrangements to increase capacity are being put in place.
Vaccination sites are already experiencing exceptionally high demand. People attending are being asked to come prepared to queue and use public transport where possible, due to pressure on car parking. They are also asked to be patient with staff and volunteers, who are continuing to work tirelessly.
NHS Devon’s chief nurse Darryn Allcorn said: “It is vital that people listen to the message that two doses is not enough to give you good protection against the Omicron variant. We do need a third, booster dose to bring our immunity back up.
“We already have people in hospital in the UK who have the Omicron variant and scientists cannot say that it is less severe than other Covid-19 variants.”
Steve Brown, Devon’s Director of Public Health, said: “The emergence of the Omicron variant, and the uncertainty right now about its impact on our health, is a reminder of how quickly situations can change.
“We know that the Omicron strain of the coronavirus is more infectious than previous variants, and it is clear that we need to do more to reduce the risk of transmission. Taking up third or booster vaccination is vital, and I would encourage everyone who is eligible to do so as soon as possible.
“I also urge everyone to heed the national guidance around the wearing of face coverings, now a requirement in most public places, especially in confined, indoor and crowded spaces; to work from home if you can; and to social distance as much as possible.
“And from tomorrow (14 December), people who are double vaccinated or between 5 years and 18 and a half years, who are identified as a contact of someone with coronavirus, whether Omicron or not, will need to take a lateral flow test every day for a week. People who are unvaccinated and identified as a contact to someone with the virus will need to self-isolate for 10 days.”
Staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to vaccinate people over the last year, giving more than 2.3 million doses at 43 vaccine clinic sites and over 160 outreach clinics.
Here at Livewell Southwest we are supporting the community by working with our system partners on the delivery of vaccination to those unable to leave their homes in Plymouth. We are identifying a number of colleagues to step away from their day to day role to prioritise this urgent work, ensuring anyone and everyone can get boosted, despite a lack of mobility or current health difficulties.
As Christmas approaches the NHS in Devon is expanding the programme at pace to vaccinate more people each week than ever before, with more sites, longer opening hours, more pop-up clinics and more volunteers being recruited in order to offer every person aged 18 and above, who is three months or more since their second dose a booster by the end of the year. People must wait 28 days after a positive Covid PCR test before having the vaccination.
The NHS is asking for people to be patient, as we work to implement these changes as soon as practicably possible. Please do not contact your GP for help with the national booking system.
There are around 150 Covid patients in hospital in Devon, most Covid patients who are seriously ill in intensive care are unvaccinated. However it’s not too late for people who haven’t yet taken up the offer to have a first or second dose.
GP practices or other local NHS healthcare providers are vaccinating people who are housebound as quickly and as safely possible, and vaccination teams will be in touch within the next ten days to confirm arrangements.
Appointments at one of our sites remains the best way to get your vaccine and can be booked via the National Booking System. Details of walk-in clinics are being regularly shared on NHS Devon CCG’s social media pages. You can find your nearest walk-in clinic on NHS England’s site finder here.
People can register as volunteers via a simple application form on the website “Our Plymouth”, the regional volunteering organisation which is coordinating volunteers for all Mass Vaccination Centres across Devon.