The Board received a verbal update and presentation with an update on the local Covid-19 response and vaccine rollout.
It was noted that there has been a slow rise in cases since 2 June 2021 with 130 cases reported in the last 7 days. The Board were also advised that there had been a strong uptake in testing and vaccination; it was highlighted that 74.0% of the adult population had now received a first dose of a vaccine.
The Board were then presented with a summary of positive cases which showed that the average age of those testing positive for Covid-19 was 42. Data was also presented across a range of other age-groups in addition to data on negative test results.
A summary of regional communication campaigns was provided; from the update the Board noted that the “Every Question Matters” campaign is to launch on Monday 14 June to promote vaccine uptake and address common concerns. The Board were also provided with an overview of the Covid Junior Champions Programme, a partnership between Gateshead Public Health and Edberts House.
The Board agreed that it was important that the vaccine rollout continues at pace; concern was noted that there are some supply issues which are causing some problems for Gateshead. The Board also discussed the importance of all eligible adults booking their second dose of the vaccine as soon as they can.
A discussion took place on the potential of booster vaccinations in the Autumn/Winter; it was suggested by officers that a local approach to the vaccine rollout works best and that this has been proven in Gateshead. It was asked whether it was important to receive the same vaccine as a booster than what had been given as part of the initial vaccination phase. It was confirmed that a different vaccine can be given as a booster and that this may even improve protection against serious illness.
The Board noted that there was a growing prevalence of positive cases amongst the younger population and school-age children, those most likely to be socialising and those most likely to have not been vaccinated yet. Concern was noted that the long-term physical health impact of Covid-19 is not yet known. It was also noted that the pandemic and the various lockdowns and restrictions have had a severe impact on the mental health of young people. The Board were advised that a report on the impact of Covid on disadvantaged areas would be presented at the next meeting.
It was asked whether there was capacity within the system to have a vaccination programme within schools to encourage vaccination uptake in more deprived areas. It was highlighted that sites close to schools are being looked at. A discussion also took place on the pandemic and how it has exacerbated inequalities across Gateshead.
It was agreed that the primary care workforce, working with partners across the system in Gateshead have done some amazing work throughout the pandemic.
(i) The Board noted the update within the presentation.
(ii) The Board agreed to receive a report on the impact of Covid on disadvantaged areas at the next meeting.