Suffolk Health bosses: “Just one jab is half a job – keep testing and get second vaccination”

Health bosses in Suffolk are urging people waiting for their second COVID-19 vaccination to take regular tests to help curb the spread of the virus.

People are being asked to test twice a week and to take their vaccine as soon as it is offered to them.

NHS vaccination figures show that whilst just over half of the Suffolk population of 761,350 have had both vaccine doses, 66% have only had their first. (1) This means the majority of Suffolk residents are still at risk from catching the virus and passing it on.

Up to June 13, a total of 506,889 adults in the county aged up to 80+ had received their first dose, while 394,175 had received their second.

The Delta variant of the virus is now the most prevalent in the UK and the concern for health bosses is that although the vaccine is highly effective – more than 80% after two doses –, one dose is only around 33% effective. (2)

The figures do not record how many eligible people have refused a vaccine, but Stuart Keeble, Director of Public Health for Suffolk, said they showed the importance of getting both vaccinations when offered and testing regularly to break its spread.

“If you have both vaccinations you reduce considerably the chances of it harming you but if you only have one and think you are safe then my advice would be ‘please think again’. A single vaccine on its own is not enough.

“The Delta variant is now widespread in the UK and the data shows you are more likely to need hospital if you develop it, so please make sure you get both vaccinations.

““Everyone can also do their bit in curbing the spread by testing regularly. The more cases of infection that can be identified and isolated the harder we make it for the virus to spread throughout Suffolk.”

Councillor Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council and chair of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board, said the decision of the government to delay the easing of restrictions until Monday July 19 was the right one.

“We must be realistic. However much we were looking forward to the easing of the rules, the fact remains that the country was not ready and the Government has been clear that to have gone ahead as planned would have been the wrong path,” he said.

“The delay gives us more time to vaccinate as many people as possible with both doses, thus ensuring more of us who are potentially at risk are protected.”

Cllr Hicks and Mr Keeble urged people to test – lateral flow testing kits are easily obtained, easy to use and give a swift result.

“Used regularly, lateral flow tests can help pick up the presence of the virus in a person,” Mr Keeble said.

“The test is most effective at identifying the more infectious individuals.

“The more people either with the virus or who have been exposed to it that we can identify and isolate, the less chance there is of them passing it on to others who may be only partially vaccinated or who have not had the vaccine at all and are at risk.”

Lateral flow kits can be ordered online at Gov.UK, by calling NHS 119, you can get them from any library or pharmacies in Suffolk.