Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health has joined her colleagues from across Cheshire and Merseyside in urging people to attend appointments for their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
More than 1.4 million vaccines have already been administered in Cheshire and Merseyside with around 95 per cent of over 70s now having received their first dose. But as second dose appointments gather pace, the region’s Directors of Public Health, including Margaret are reminded people they only have maximum protection if they have both doses.
She said: “I am pleased that across our region so many people, including me, have already had a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“But I can confirm that I will definitely be attending my appointment for a second dose because it is only with two doses that we have maximum protection.
“In the meantime, because I could still pick up and pass on the virus, I will be continuing to follow the guidance on distancing, wearing face covering and washing my hands as well as sticking to the Government’s lockdown regulations.”
Addressing concerns people may have about the AstraZeneca vaccine, Mrs Jones said: “I had the AstraZeneca vaccine with no noticeable side-effects and will have absolutely no hesitation in going to get the protection a second dose will provide. I would go tomorrow, although in fact my follow up appointment is not until June.
“I am also pleased to see that the latest YouGov survey shows that most people in the UK agree with me with 75 per cent of British respondents saying they trust the AstraZeneca jab.”
This week, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which regulates medicines in the UK, said the overall risk of developing blood clots after the AstraZeneca vaccination is just 4 in a million.
The MHRA also said vaccines have already saved thousands of lives and are the best way to protect people from COVID-19.
Directors of Public Health in Cheshire and Merseyside confirmed some people may have experienced mild side-effects with the first dose of either vaccine but said this is a sign that it is working and triggering their immune response. And they say the possibility of feeling unwell after the second dose is much less common.
Ian Ashworth, Chair of the Cheshire and Merseyside Directors of Public Health Board and Director of Public Health for Cheshire West and Chester said: “The first dose of the vaccine offers good levels of protection, but to get maximum protection everyone will need a second dose. Even if you are vaccinated, it is essential to keep washing your hands, wearing a mask when needed and keeping your distance. Everyone has made huge sacrifices to bring the case numbers down and we want to ensure we don’t see any further rises in the future.”
The Government has reported that there will be a significant reduction in weekly vaccine supply from the beginning of April for a four-week period. The focus during this period will be on ensuring second doses of the vaccine are delivered and that no one is left behind; teams across the region are looking at innovative schemes to take the vaccine to those individuals and communities that have lower uptake of the vaccine.
It is therefore even more important that people aged 50 and above, health and care workers, people with an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk, and anyone called for a second dose take up the offer now.
The NHS has been inviting those eligible for a jab by letter and text with GPs also calling some patients.
Text invitations appear as an alert from ‘NHSvaccine’ and letters include a web link to click and reserve an appointment at one of more than 300 large-scale vaccination centres or pharmacies across England.
The Directors of Public Health also urged people to continue getting tested as restrictions are eased, no matter what their vaccine status, to protect themselves and their loved ones.
Find out more about Home Testing and how to obtain Home Test Kits.
Anyone developing coronavirus symptoms should still self-isolate and immediately book a PCR test by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus. Eligible people who test positive are entitled to the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment in the same way as a regular swab test through NHS Test and Trace.