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Slapton Parish

Slapton, Devon

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Director of Public Health Devon - Coronavirus Update

Act sensibly now to keep you and your family safe

It's been a while, but this week the government's evening briefings were back, with Health Secretary, Sajid Javid talking about COVID-19 over the winter months.

He said that new COVID-19 infections could reach 100,000 cases per day and urged people to have their vaccination as soon as possible, not just to save lives but to protect our freedoms too.

He also warned that if people don't continue with the precautions we are now so familiar with - wearing a mask when in busy indoor spaces, meeting outside where possible, getting tested when required and vaccinated when offered - then we are more likely to face restrictions. He said:

"If we all play our part, we can give ourselves the best possible chance, get through winter and enjoy Christmas with our loved ones."

You can watch the full press conference via 10 Downing Street's YouTube channel.

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon said:

"Case rates in Devon are rising, and are now slightly higher than the national average. The highest number of cases are among the 10 to 15 year old age group, but we're seeing a rise too in their parents and carers ages, 35 to 54 year olds.

"I am asking people to act sensibly now, to follow the public health advice and take up your vaccinations when it's offered to you, to keep you and your family safe, and to help the NHS this winter."

How 12 to 15 year olds can get the COVID-19 vaccine

This week the government announced that local vaccination sites would play a part, alongside schools, in rolling out the COVID-19 vaccination programme to young people aged 12 to 15 years old.

It means that young people aged 12 to 15 years old will be able to have their jab either at school or at a local vaccination site.

If the vaccine is given at school, they will be unaccompanied. But if it's given at a local vaccination site, a parent or carer can go with them.

The NHS will send a letter explaining this, and detailing the different process for consent if booking an appointment at a vaccination centre or receiving the vaccination at school. It will also explain how to book an appointment at a local vaccination centre.

Once schools know when the immunisation team (Virgin Care) will be visiting them, they will write to parents to let them know and send information about the consent needed and the deadline for that consent to be given.

Trained and experienced healthcare staff will administer the vaccinations in schools in a designated area with a team to check the required consent. Once your child has had their jab, they will be asked to rest for a short while in an observation area.

If your child is absent on the day of the vaccination, or unable to be vaccinated but consent has been given, or if you would like to accompany your child during their vaccination, then you can book your child a vaccination appointment at a local vaccination centre via the National Booking System, with appointments often available as soon as the following day.

The government has produced guidance for parents, children and young people to explain the COVID-19 vaccination programme and answer frequently asked questions. We've listed them on our website.

How to stay safe this half-term

Here are our top tips for how to stay safe this half-term:

  • if you have coronavirus or flu-type symptoms that may be COVID-19, please don't travel. Take a PCR test and self-isolate pending the result
  • if you are travelling, and planning to be away for a while, remember to take some lateral flow device tests with you to use
  • remember to take face coverings - although they're not mandatory, the advice is still to wear them when in crowded areas, or indoors with others, including public transport
  • if you're meeting friends, try to make the most of the season by being outdoors, or ventilating your indoor space
  • and if you've not yet had your vaccinations, please do so as soon as you're invited to

Have you had your flu jab yet?

The COVID-19 pandemic has made us all more aware of viruses and how poorly they can make us. So the NHS in Devon is reminding people to get their flu vaccination to give themselves the best possible protection against illness this winter.

An average of 11,000 people in England die from flu annually, and this year the government has warned that there could be a significant flu surge coinciding with continuing or rising COVID-19 cases due to colder weather and increased social contact indoors.

Research shows that if you get flu and coronavirus at the same time, you're more likely to be seriously ill. It's also thought that more people are likely to get flu this winter as there won't be as much natural immunity due to lower levels of circulation last year during the national lockdowns.

The COVID-19 vaccine does not protect against flu so it is vital to have both your coronavirus and flu jab to reduce your chances of becoming unwell and needing hospital treatment. Getting vaccinated helps you and the NHS, which is already facing extreme pressures in the run up to the very busy winter season.

Some people are eligible to get the flu jab free on the NHS because of their age or circumstances, and can book their flu vaccination appointment at their GP practice or local pharmacy. If you are not eligible for a free NHS flu vaccine, you can still pay for one privately at a local pharmacy.

The people who brought us the ZOE COVID Study app have published a handy guide about flu, its symptoms, and how to keep safe this winter. It also describes the difference between flu and COVID-19.

Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon

NHS HM Government Coronavirus guidance
Meeting up with friends and family - Its safer outside than indoors

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