Grounds for optimism as infection rates fall and vaccinations gather pace

Havering Council's director of public health Dr Mark Ansell. Picture: Havering Council

Havering Council's director of public health Dr Mark Ansell. - Credit: Havering Council

A year into the pandemic, things remain incredibly difficult for us all but vaccination provides real grounds for optimism.

Because you have stuck to the lockdown rules, rates of infection in Havering are now coming down.

We have avoided the very real possibility that our local NHS services would be overwhelmed.

Our numbers on new cases are looking good, but they have reduced from a dangerously high mark. At the end of January, our case rate stood just about where we were at the start of December. The danger, in other words, has not passed.

Health and social care colleagues have worked under unrelenting pressure for many weeks and will do so for many more. I am in awe of their unending professionalism and commitment.

Despite their best efforts, and the introduction of new treatments, the number of deaths each week is similar to the peak of the first wave and is unlikely to come down for a few weeks yet. In total, more than 700 residents have now lost their lives to Covid-19 due to the high levels of infection in the borough and Havering’s older demographic.

It is against this background that the vaccination roll-out is so important. After so much pain and struggle, vaccination offers an end to lockdowns, school closures, job losses and the constant fear of illness affecting family and friends.

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People are being prioritised for vaccination based on their risk of developing severe illness – so residents aged over 80 and care home residents were first to get the vaccine (anyone aged 80 or above who hasn’t been offered vaccination should now contact their GP).

People aged between 70 and 80 and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable are being invited now. You don’t need to do anything; be patient; you will be contacted soon by text, phone or letter offering vaccination for free on or before February 14.

You will not be contacted by email. Sadly, there are a number of scam emails around offering vaccines. Don’t be fooled.

Last week we held a successful public health and vaccination online meeting. That event was part of our Better Days Are Ahead campaign, to encourage residents to take the Covid-19 vaccine when contacted.

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