Wigan doctors urge everyone to get coronavirus jab
More than three-quarters of adults across the UK have now received both injections, but there are still younger people waiting for their second dose and those who are choosing not to get vaccinated.
Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Wigan Infirmary, currently has several patients with coronavirus who are being treated on medical wards and the intensive care unit.
The number of patients with the illness is at a “steady state” compared to recent months, but sadly there have been some deaths.
And doctors there are urging people to have the jab to reduce their chances of becoming seriously ill.
Dr Abdul Ashish, respiratory consultant and divisional medical director for medicine, said: “What we have predominantly noticed is the fact we have more non-vaccinated patients or people with one vaccination who are being admitted to the hospital than those who have had both vaccines. We have also noted that people with inadequate or no vaccination are more seriously ill and require the support of ventilation a lot more than those who have had both vaccines.
“Vaccinations seem to be protective against definitely getting Covid infection and getting severe Covid infection.”
Compared to earlier in the pandemic, the hospital is now seeing younger patients, including under 30s who may have only had one jab and are waiting for their second.
Dr Ashish said: “We would encourage people to get vaccinated. I think the population are worried about some of the side affects as well, like blood clots. From experience the occurrence of a clot with a vaccine is one to four per million vaccines, whereas the occurrence of clots in Covid patients is one in four. People don’t realise the fact that Covid can cause clotting is many fold higher than the vaccine can cause.
“Vaccines are very, very safe. It’s available at multiple centres across Wigan. People should take it before the winter. That would really help us to deal with the pressures across our A&E and other wards.”
There are concerns that now the restrictions imposed during the pandemic have been lifted, people are going out more and could be spreading the virus without realising if they are asymptomatic.
And with the colder, winter months fast approaching, this could have serious consequences for the hospital.
Dr Ashish said: “Winters are usually busy. We tend to get more respiratory infections, we get people who are elderly and they get severely ill and get pneumonia.
“What we don’t know is how winter will affect it. Covid is a virus and there will be mutations and changes. Last winter there were restrictions and people were not venturing out. This winter I think we will have a very different winter, if we have a surge in Covid as well as our usual winter activity.”
There have also been warnings that common respiratory viruses affecting children could be particularly prevalent in the North West this winter.
Dr Sanjay Arya, a consultant cardiologist and medical director warned the illness has not gone away.
He said: “This has not gone. We have many, many more patients than we had after the second wave had gone. They are all requiring high care.”
The vast majority of staff within the hospital have now been double-vaccinated and have been working tirelessly since the pandemic began.
He thanked them for their efforts, particularly those on respiratory wards, critical care and A&E.
Dr Arya said: “We have virtually worked non-stop since March 2020. It’s the same staff who are managing Covid patients and the same staff who are now managing the huge backlog that Covid has created.
“We still have staff who haven’t taken holidays yet, we have lots of staff who have taken only a day or two or a week at the most. If they all took their entitled leave, our recovery work would be significantly affected.”
Dr Arya said staff were keen to work and care for patients, but there were still issues with some having to isolate due to the so-called “pingdemic”.
As they work through the back-log of patients awaiting treatment and prioritise those in most need, he urged people to contact their consultant, GP or a pharmacist if their condition worsened.
But restrictions remain on visitors for those patients in the hospital, with only a selected few allowed to have loved ones with them.
Dr Arya said: “It has been a major challenge for our patients and their families that we have had to restrict visiting to hospital. It has been challenging to us also, managing patients without the help of the family, because they give us so much information.
“Unfortunately because of the third wave and because there are several patients with Covid in the hospital, spread across several wards not just one area, we are having to still restrict visiting.
“We are still making every effort to speak to the carers and the families. We have systems and processes in place on every ward.”
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