By Helena Gregory
Pharmacy Lead for North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group
We have been working on our covid vaccine programme for more than a year now and in that time the team have given more than 685,000 vaccines across north Cumbria. In that time we have become expert at managing vaccine sessions, listening and responding to questions and concerns, and protecting our community.
Lots of people came forward when the call went out nationally to get your booster quickly and our teams stood up lots of extra sessions and increased capacity quickly. Alongside our GP Practices calling people in, we have lots of pharmacy teams based right across the county and our teams had a bumper weekend before Christmas delivering more than 10,000 jabs in one weekend. We’ve tried to increase the number of options to make it easier for people to get their jabs.
But why have you been asked to have a booster?
Currently everyone aged over 18 is entitled to three jabs and we know this approach really helps to boost people’s immunity and helps reduce both the number of cases and the severity of covid. The more protection you have, the less likely you are to get covid and pass it on, and the less likely you are to become severely ill if you do develop covid.
We know this is really important for people who are especially vulnerable – you may have friends or family members who are receiving treatment for cancer, people living with long term conditions or those with other illnesses who will be more protected the more people around them are vaccinated. We know being vaccinated helps you reduce your chances of developing long covid.
The booster has proved particularly effective at reducing serious illness for those who pick up the omicron variant.
We know there are people frustrated at having to get another vaccination and those that don’t believe they will be badly affected if they do get covid.
We know there are people who are overwhelmed by all of the information and what it means for them. We know there are people who are trying to make a bigger decision – it is about more than just them – they may be pregnant and wonder if it is the right thing to do, or are wondering if they should sign the consent forms for their children.
Health professionals understand how big this decision can feel and will also take the time to talk through any concerns that you may have about your own situation.
But I would like to reassure you that if you are pregnant the advice is very clear – DO get your vaccine and your booster. All of the evidence points very clearly to the potentially dangerous impact of developing covid while you are pregnant. It can be very dangerous for you and your unborn baby to have covid. The vaccine – like many other vaccines that are given routinely during pregnancy - is the best way to protect yourself and your unborn child.
If you are worried, talk to your midwife or your doctor or look for information from experts such as the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists https://www.rcog.org.uk/en/guidelines-research-services/coronavirus-covid-19-pregnancy-and-womens-health/
There is also some really helpful available through the British Fertility Society https://www.britishfertilitysociety.org.uk/2021/07/27/bfs-arcs-covid-19-vaccines-fertility-2/
If you are worried about whether your children should get the jab if they are eligible, we would urge you to look around the world where younger people have been eligible for longer, and in the context of all the childhood immunisation we regularly offer our young people. Vaccinating against covid will help protect them from the disease, reduce spread in schools, the potential impact of long covid and help them reduce the likelihood of passing on covid to elderly or vulnerable relatives.
If you haven’t yet had your booster, please do. You may get called by your practice, you can book an appointment through nhs.uk or you can go along to a walk-in session.
- You may have had covid in recent weeks. So please remember you will need to wait 4 weeks after your covid infection.
- You can have your booster 3 months (or 91 days) after your second jab.
We know the information can be really confusing so please check with your local NHS which may have the answers to some of your queries here: www.northcumbriaccg.nhs.uk/covidvaccine
Finally, a huge thank you to all the teams working on this vaccination programme they have put in some amazing work and been supported by fantastic volunteers who have made a real difference!
And thank you to you for coming forward to have your jab when called.