Can you help our COVID response?

The headline news about the Covid Vaccination Programme is that the NHS vaccinated its 100,000th Staffordshire resident on 22 January, with 70% of care home residents and 60% of over-80s now having had their first injection. The rest of the care homes will have been covered this weekend. This is well ahead of the national rate, which is itself the leading rate among large nations worldwide. The importance of the phased approach to vaccinating sections of the population was brought home to me by a paper I read last week. Based on the evidence of the pandemic to date, one life is saved for every 20 care home residents vaccinated, compared with one every 160 over-80s, and one every 47,000 in the wider population.  With the UK taking the bold decision to go early with a mass vaccination programme, accepting that this brings supply chain constraints, it is vital to target the available vaccine at the people for whom it will have the greatest protective effect.  In essence, we are doing it in three phases: we are currently in Phase 1 where the aim is to save life; Phase 2 will protect those more likely to be hospitalised due to factors such as age, condition or employment: and Phase 3 will cover the wider population to allow society and the economy to return to normality.

Early in the pandemic, we asked for volunteers to help make sure critical services could continue in the face of rising Covid-19 cases. More than 700 of you volunteered for the iCount Campaign, which meant vital tasks, like caring for the vulnerable, could continue.  We’re calling on you again to help at this critical stage of the pandemic. The NHS will soon be rolling out mass vaccination centres in the county and is looking for our support to run the centres and to make sure priority groups get the vaccine. We also need support at our testing centres, and to identify and contact people in the care sector who are eligible for the vaccine.  Helping in these critical areas means we can test more people, make sure those who need vaccinations get them in good time and free up hospital staff with clinical experience to help in critical areas.  If you think you can spare some time to help, either inside or outside of work hours, please speak to your manager first and sign up to I Count.  For more information on the opportunities available, visit I Count on the Do It Staffordshire platform.

In closing this week, Wednesday marks the 76th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Southern Poland in 1945, now marked as Holocaust Memorial Day.  It is of course a sombre time, commemorating an unimaginable crime, but in this sombre year, it helps me to remind myself that it was also the end of that nightmare.  I will reflect on our experience over the past year, and look to a brighter future. 


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