Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Walk-in vaccination clinic by Marina car park in St Leonards on 15 January.

Coronavirus statistical update: booster campaign the priority as Hastings continues to lag

Sussex Health and Care Partnership is pulling out all the stops to maximise vaccination opportunities in Hastings and Sussex through January. Hastings continues to lag in terms of the proportion of the boostered population, while the situation is better in Rother. Text by Nick Terdre and Russell Hall, research and charts by Russell Hall.

It’s all systems go as the NHS strives to push up vaccination rates in Hastings, Rother and across Sussex. In addition to the regular centres for jabs, pop-up clinics have also been arranged through January to maximise the boostered population (see below for details).

Booster eligibility has been substantially expanded – all 16 and 17-year-olds are now eligible, though they have only been able to book or turn up for a booster since yesterday. At-risk 12-15 year olds may also get a booster.

The government claimed that it reached its target of offering a booster to all eligible parties across England by the end of last year – but this is not the same as actually sticking needles in arms.

As of 17 January, NHS figures show that 30,497,020 booster jabs had been given in England to those aged 16 or over, equivalent to 66.7% of the population. There is clearly still a long way to go.

Boom to bust

When the threat posed by the newly arrived Omicron variant hit the headlines in December, there was a rush to get boostered. The seven-day average for boosters administered in the UK hit a peak of just under 886,800 a day on 19 December. It has since subsided, falling to 73,267 a day as reported on 17 January.

This matters for several reasons. Given the stocks of vaccine made available for the booster campaign, if large numbers of those eligible for it do not turn up, it is possible that a significant amount of vaccine may go to waste.

But the booster also provides significantly improved levels of protection against Omicron, which has replaced Delta as the dominant variant thanks to its greater transmissibility.

According to a technical briefing by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) dated 14 January, protection offered by a booster dose against severe disease is as high as 92% initially, declining to 83% after 10 weeks or more. It is somewhat less effective against mild disease – initially 65-70% but falling to 45-50% from around 10 weeks. Even so, it offers much better protection than just two doses, after which protection against mild disease has largely disappeared by 20 weeks.

So how are we doing locally? Up to 17 January, a booster dose had been administered to 48,859 people in Hastings aged 18+ and 62,366 in Rother. Taking the latest population estimate published by the Office for National Statistics, for 2020, that equates to 66.6% of Hastings’ 18+ population and 77.5% of Rother’s.

Using the National Immunisation Management Service population estimates, which are somewhat larger than the ONS’s, the proportions are a little lower: 63.2% for Hastings and 75.7% for Rother.

The headline in the Hastings Observer’s online edition last week that “More than 80 per cent of Hastings and St Leonards residents have had their booster vaccine” was therefore rather misleading. When the news item on the Sussex Health and Care Partnership website on which the Observer’s report is based stated: “…83.5% of the eligible population in cohorts 1-12 have had their booster,” that referred to the proportion of people aged 18  or over who had already had two doses.

So still a long way to go in Hastings too, given there are 26,512 people of 16+, using the ONS population estimates, who have not had a booster (or 30,626 using the NIMS estimates – the different population estimates can sometimes lead to quite different results).

The chart below shows that it is the eligible younger age-groups in Hastings which are failing to get the full course of vaccination.

The situation is better in Rother, where the number of unboostered 16+ year-olds is 19,767 (ONS) or 21,828 (NIMS).

East Sussex hospitals coping

While the surge in Omicron cases has put hospitals in some parts of the country under pressure, East Sussex hospitals are so far coping well. Both hospital admissions and number of patients are well below their respective peaks of January 2021 when the Alpha variant was having its greatest effect, as the chart below shows.

On 9 January only three Covid-19 patients were in mechanical ventilation beds out of 15 open adult critical care beds.

And while absenteeism is high, with 467 not at work on 9 January, equivalent to 6.1% of the total staff complement, less than half - 226 - were staff either ill or isolating due to Covid.

In terms of both patients and deaths the South-East is doing better than all other regions of the UK, but as Omicron reached this region later than most others, levels of both may be expected to rise.

Prevalence up

The ONS infection survey for the week ending 6 January shows an increase in prevalence, with 3,735,000 estimated to prove positive in England, up 14% on the previous week and equating to one person in 15. The South East had one of the lower rates, with cases up 1% to 490,600, equating to about one in 20.

Peak reached?

But NHS daily case data suggests that Omicron cases may have peaked at this time, both locally and in England. On 4 January England weekly cases per 100,000 population hit a high of 1,947.58, Hastings a high of 1,458.61 and Rother 1,090.82. Cases have since fallen substantially.

According to an estimate from cases, R, the reproduction rate, fell below 1 in England on 8 January and in Hastings on 9 January, indicating that on average an infected person is transmitting the infection to less than one other person.

Walk-in vaccination clinics in Hastings

Here is a list of walk-in clinics where first, second and/or booster vaccinations can be had without making an appointment. Second doses are only available eight weeks or more after the first, or, in the case of under 18s, 12 weeks or more. Boosters are available 12 weeks or more after the second dose.

You are asked to bring your NHS number if you have it but this is not essential.

Full details, including what to do if you need the AstraZeneca or Moderna vaccine, are available here.

Hastings Town Hall (Priory Square entrance), Hastings TN34 1QR 10am-4pm, Tues 18-Sat 22 Jan (10am-5.30pm, Thurs 20th; 10-3.30pm, Sat 22nd); Tues 25-Sat 29 Jan (10am-5.30pm, Thurs 27th; 10-3.30pm, Sat 29th)

Kings Church, Hastings Centre, The Ridge, Hastings TN34 2SA 9am-6pm, Tues 18 Jan, Thurs 20-Sat 22 Jan, Tues 25 Jan, Thurs 27-Sat 29 Jan

Laycocks Pharmacy, 494-500 Old London Road, Ore TN35 5BL 9am-3.30pm, Tues 18-Sat 22 Jan (Wed 19 and Sat 22, 9am-12.30pm); Tues 25-Sat 29 Jan (Wed 26, 9am-12.30pm)

Community Room, Tesco Extra, Church Wood Drive, St Leonards-on-Sea TN38 9RB 10am-4pm, Tues 18-Wed 19 Jan

Asda Battle Road, St Leonards-on-Sea TN37 7AA 10am-4pm, Thurs 20-Fri 21 Jan; 10.30am-4pm, Fri 28 Jan

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Posted 09:48 Wednesday, Jan 19, 2022 In: Covid-19

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