A month after the country welcomed ‘Freedom Day’ and the removal of COVID-19 restrictions, younger frontline health workers are appealing to their peers to continue playing their part.
The North East is consistently among the highest regions in in the country for cases of coronavirus. Now NHS staff from across the region are urging those not yet vaccinated to act now.
Though cases have reduced over recent weeks, health trusts have reported a rise in the number of young people being hospitalised with the virus.
Figures show that a fifth of patients in hospital in England with the virus now are between 18 and 34.
Clinical co-ordinator Steph Gale is dressed in full personal protective equipment and speaking from the critical care unit at the University Hospital of North Tees. She comments: “This is not my freedom.
“We are caring for lots of younger patients, some without any other health conditions. This virus is still here and it is affecting a different age group.
“I know our community has been playing its part to support us. We need them to continue to do that by being vaccinated and being cautious.”
Why should I get the vaccine?
Analysis from Public Health England has shown that the COVID vaccine is up to 96% effective against hospitalisation after two doses.
Deepak Dwarakanath is the medical director at our Trust,. He said: “When you look across this organisation and the health system in the region, this doesn’t feel like ‘freedom’ to us quite yet. We still need to continue doing out bit.
“We have regularly been top of the league nationally for COVID-19 rates.
“People are still being hospitalised and many of these patients are much younger than we were seeing in the first two waves.
“We are asking people – younger groups in particular – to ensure they have the vaccine and be protected.
“We are also calling on people to continue to wear a mask in shops and indoor public areas, to continue being vigilant and to maintain good hand hygiene habits.”
All 16 and 17-year-olds in England will be offered their jab by 23 August.
There are an estimated 1.4 million people in this age group. And nearly 16,000 of these have already received the vaccine.
“The one way we know we can protect ourselves”
Elaine Henderson is deputy director for nursing and midwifery at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. She said: “All 16 and 17 year olds are now being offered their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. It is phenomenal how far the country’s vaccination programme has advanced in less than a year.
“I would urge every person who is given the opportunity to protect themselves against this disease to take it. As a young person, the threat of COVID-19 may not have even crossed your mind. But we are now unfortunately seeing younger people fall seriously ill.
“Vaccination is the one way we know we can protect ourselves, our loved ones and our local NHS services. Please do the responsible thing and get your vaccine so we all look after each other.”