At-risk Wigan young people are urged to come forward for their Covid vaccines
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The region’s lead for the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme, Dr Linda Charles-Ozuzu, said that younger people with conditions such as asthma and diabates, as well as people with a learning disability or with a serious mental illness such as bipolar disorder are at increased risk from the virus.
Furthermore, they may not be aware that they are eligible for the latest dose of the vaccine resulting in fewer coming forward. The latest data shows that overall uptake in the under 65s at-risk group is lower than in those aged 65+ and that the youngest people are the least likely to have taken up the seasonal Covid vaccine.
People who are aged six months to 64 years old, who are immunosuppressed due to a health condition or medical treatment, and pregnant women are eligible for a dose of the vaccine this autumn, as well as everyone aged 65 or above and frotnline health and social care workers.
In the North West, 1.5 per cent of 5 to 11-year-olds and 16 per cent of 18 to 29-year-olds with a learning disability had come forward by the end of October, compared with 40 per cent of those aged 60 to 64 . Similarly, one in ten people aged 18 to 29 with a weakened immune system have had the autumn Covid vaccine so far, compared with 42 per cent of people aged 60 to 64. Statistics broken down by health condition show the lowest uptake in those with chronic liver disease and chronic heart disease aged 17 to 49.
Dr Linda Charles-Ozuzu, Regional Director of Commissioning and senior responsible officer for the Covid-19 vaccination programme for NHS England – North West, said: “Overall, we’ve seen a really encouraging start to the autumn vaccination programme, including our fastest ever rollout of the vaccine in care homes.
“However, it’s concerning to see that some of our lowest uptake is in people in younger age groups who are at additional risk from Covid-19 and more likely to develop more severe illness, including more significant respiratory symptoms, and being hospitalised.
“I’d strongly urge them to come forward as soon as possible to get this vital protection and, if unsure if they’re eligible, people can speak to a pharmacist, GP or their specialist for advice.”
More than 1.1 million vaccinations have been given out across the region since the launch of the autumn programme in September, with many being delivered in the same appointment as the flu vaccine to make it as convenient as possible.
The autumn vaccination campaign is among a package of NHS measures to prepare for winter with the health service already facing immense pressure from ongoing industrial action, demand on emergency services, alongside the risk of a new covid variant, and common winter viruses.
GP Dr Paula Cowan, Regional Medical Director for Primary Care, NHS England North West, said: “Covid hasn’t fully gone away and it’s important we continue to be vigilant. One way we can do this is by having the vaccine.
“It’s really important that people check if they are eligible and come forward – if you normally get the free flu vaccine because of a health condition then you will be eligible for the autumn Covid vaccine this year.
“If you’re a carer for someone with those conditions, it’s really important you take up the covid vaccination too.”