Covid vaccines now easier than ever to get as Portsmouth residents urged to 'grab a jab'
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With Covid cases rapidly rising in the city and mandatory restrictions ditched today, it is hoped residents will step forward to protect themselves and the NHS at a number of hubs now offering walk-in slots.
As reported, some pharmacies and surgeries in Portsmouth are providing vaccines without appointments and the St James’ Hospital centre is allowing people to bring friends or relatives to get jabbed at the same time.
It comes as figures show the city is still trailing behind the rest of the country for vaccine uptake, with 141,918 people having had at least one vaccine - or 74.7 per cent of the population - compared to 77.6 in England.
105,831 people in the city have had both jabs, or 55.7 per cent, compared to 60.4 nationally.
And cases continue to grow, with 193 cases across Portsmouth recorded in the last seven days.
Clinical lead for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Covid-19 vaccination programme, Dr Nigel Watson, said the vaccine was essential for everyone - regardless of age.
He said: ‘Both doses give you about 90 per cent protection so it’s really important people get both. We are now seeing infection rates doubling but the number of people in serious conditions and being admitted to hospital is much lower than before - because of the vaccines.
‘We know Covid affects the most vulnerable -the elderly and people with underlying health conditions - but there’s a myth that it doesn't affect young people.
‘We do get young people who are seriously ill with it. And about 15 per cent of people who get Covid get Long Covid which can be really nasty.
‘My advice to everyone is get vaccinated in order to protect yourself, your friends, family and community.’
Other places now offering walk-in vaccines in Portsmouth include Lalys Pharmacy, in Guildhall Walk, Goldchem Pharmacy in Albert Road, and the Eastney Health Centre.
And for those who might struggle to attend appointments, the city’s voluntary network, the Hive, is able to provide transport - a service that has currently only been taken up by about 20 people.
Louise Wilders, from the Hive, said: ‘We can still support people getting to vaccine hubs through our dedicated volunteers - if anyone needs this support they can contact our Hive community helpline on 023 9261 6709.’
In a further bid to reduce the spread of infection some places, including Queen Alexandra Hospital, will not be dropping all restrictions despite the OK from government.
Medical director of Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, John Knighton said: ‘Recognising the rise in case numbers that we are having across our community and the need to continue to protect the vulnerable patients that we have under our care, so we will continue to be asking all people attending the hospital to wear a mask, to wash their hands and to take all the usual and existing precautions as well following the recommendations that we already have on our website for visiting.
‘We are seeing increasing numbers of patients, sadly, with Covid, not just in the community but coming into hospital and some of those are younger than they were before. So now is also the time, and perhaps particularly with the release of national lockdown measures further, now is the time to ensure that all the adult population get fully vaccinated.’
The same stance has been taken within council buildings.
Portsmouth City Council leader, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: ‘I'm sure many residents and businesses will be very pleased Covid-19 rules are being lifted, but the youngest among us still aren't fully vaccinated. So I urge business leaders to continue following Covid-19 guidance to protect their staff and customers.
‘Our team of Covid community engagement officers will continue to offer advice on safety measures businesses like shops, hairdressers, bars and cafes, can take to protect their staff and customers from the spread of coronavirus.
‘To help protect the public when using our services, which remain up and running, we're asking all staff and visitors to council offices, including libraries and community centres, to continue to wear a face covering and keep a social distance. And, as the government recommends, we will organise a gradual return to the workplace for staff who are working from home.
‘Having more people in our buildings immediately would create the potential for infection to spread, which could result in numerous staff needing to self-isolate, leaving us unable to deliver the services our residents rely on.’
And Roger Batterbury, chairman of Healthwatch Portsmouth, added: ‘We have all been on a long journey through this pandemic and continuing to follow the guidance supports everyone who has done their bit during the last 17 months.
‘It will be personal choice if people choose to wear a face mask/covering at other times if it makes them, and others feel safe.
‘The guidance follows the principal of personal responsibility, people thinking about others as well as themselves. People can also still easily get a test whether or not they have Covid symptoms, and self-isolate if they test positive.’
Pre-booked also appointments continue to be offered at all the large scale vaccination centres by visiting nhs.uk/covid-vaccination or calling 119.