A leading doctor in West Yorkshire is calling on people who haven’t yet had their flu and Covid vaccinations to come forward as soon as possible.
Dr James Thomas, GP and Medical Director for the West Yorkshire Integrated Care Board, is making the plea as both viruses continue to spread widely across the region and put increasing pressure on already stretched NHS services.
As expected, cases of both viruses rose sharply over the Christmas and New Year period, as did the number of hospital admissions. Figures last week showed that nationally one in every eight hospital beds is being used for someone with either Covid or flu. And experts fear this will continue to be a strain on the NHS for the remaining winter months, with the XBB1.5 variant that is spreading extremely rapidly in the US also being a cause for concern.
Almost two thirds of those eligible for a Covid booster in West Yorkshire have already had the vital top up jab since the rollout started last autumn. However, that means there are still over 400,000 people at increased risk from the virus who have yet to get protected.
Dr Thomas, who also leads the NHS West Yorkshire Vaccination Programme, said:
“We understand that people may be tired of having to get vaccinated but this is the only way to keep people safe and live with Covid. Immunity wanes over time, so the booster is needed to bring your protection back up to the highest level. There has been no let up for NHS staff, who are now having to contend with a ‘twindemic’ of Covid and flu at a time when the NHS is also facing record demand on services and very high vacancy and sickness rates.
“We are particularly concerned that there are people with health conditions that put them at increased risk of both Covid and flu who have not had their jabs yet. These viruses can be very serious for people with conditions such as heart or kidney disease, or respiratory conditions as you may not be able to fight off the virus as well as other people, whatever your age.
“More than 100,000 people were kept out of hospital last winter thanks to the Covid-19 vaccinations. And the more people that have the maximum protection, the less chance there is for these viruses to circulate unabated and cause serious illness.”
Both bookable and walk-in appointments are still available at clinics across the region, as well as at pop-up clinics being held in local communities. People can book an appointment online at www.nhs.uk/covidvaccine or by calling 119, or find details of their nearest walk-in clinic at www.nhs.uk/grab-a-jab.
“The number of people being admitted to hospital with both flu and Covid needs to be a wake-up call to everyone who hasn’t come forward for their vaccinations yet,” added Dr Thomas. “It’s quick and easy to get your jabs so please help protect both yourself and the NHS and make it a New Year’s resolution to get yours as soon as you can.”
This post is based on a press release issued by West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership
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