Calderdale health director urges people to get vaccinated before Omicron makes up most cases in the borough

Calderdale is about ten days behind other areas in terms of the Omicron variant making up most Covid cases – and should use the time to vaccinate as many people as possible.

Friday, 17th December 2021, 2:58 pm
Residents urged to get vaccinated and get their boosters

That is the message the message from Director of Public Health, Deborah Harkins, as the borough prepares to withstand hard winter pressures.

She said Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group was doing work to scale up the response.

“If we have ten days, let’s use those ten days and get as many people vaccinated as possible,” she said.

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Whether that was first, second, booster or other jabs, it would all help and Ms Harkins encouraged people to get them.

Darryl Thompson, Nursing Director of the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Trust – which includes Calderdale – agreed with the ten days estimate and that the impact would be significant.

“It feels like the calm before the storm at the moment. Christmas is looking like it will be testing,” he said.

Ms Harkins said Calderdale seemed to be in a strange position in terms of COVID-19 case rate as numbers had been “steady and stable” for a couple of weeks.

But there was always a lag with data and there were indications changes already seen in other parts of the country were coming Calderdale’s way.

In particular Public Health had been looking at people tested five days ago, coming into contact with the virus a week ago, and had seen a very quick increase in numbers of the Omicron variant from around 0.2 per cent to two per cent.

“We believe we are probably ten days behind those other parts of the country where the variant is making up the majority of cases.

“We anticipate a rapid increase in cases and because of that – we don’t know a lot about the variant, what we do know is that it spreads a lot quicker than previous variants.

“So just on the numbers alone we know we will become affected and with real numbers of people becoming ill, unfortunately,” she said.

Calderdale Health and Wellbeing Board, which includes Calderdale Council and other partners including health organisations, were debating winter pressures services might expect.

The council’s Director of Adult Services and Wellbeing, Iain Baines, said this winter would be challenging because of the ongoing pandemic, emergence of a new variant of Covid and workforce capacity issues across all sectors.

People had been mixing so other winter bugs, for example flu and vomiting and diarrhoea bugs were also going to be present.

But partners had been working together on a strategic plan to help cope with the challenges.

“The ongoing challenge among all partners is significant but we have been working on a plan and a number of scenarios and how we allocate additional funding,” he said.