I am very worried about the projected impact of Omicron, with case numbers rising so fast across the country. We don’t know yet the full extent of how it will translate into hospitalisations, but we do know there will be a significant impact because of the sheer number of infections and its rapid spread.
Even a very small proportion of the expected numbers of people becoming infected and then becoming seriously ill could add to other winter pressures and overwhelm the NHS – and that affects everyone – not just those with Covid.
Although the numbers of hospitalisations aren’t going up In Barnsley right now as Omicron came later to South Yorkshire than other places, the two-to-three-week time lag between initial infection and becoming seriously ill means we need to take advantage of this slight delay and do as much as we can now to protect ourselves and reduce wider spread.
This is why it’s extremely welcome news that we now have a large-scale pop-up vaccination clinic at Barnsley Metrodome which will help reach our target to give the booster to around 90,000 of our residents before the end of December 2021.
We know vaccines are the best way to protect against COVID-19, particularly in light of the new Omicron variant. The booster increases your immune response substantially, which makes it more likely that protection will be maintained against Omicron, especially for severe illness. I really do urge you to act now before the full force of Omicron hits.
This new pop-up walk-in clinic comes on top of the additional appointment slots and longer opening hours at other vaccine sites.
It will be open seven days a week, running from 10am with the last appointment at 8pm and closing only on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Please note that today (Friday 17 December), the clinic closes at 4pm for the Barnsley FC match at Oakwell.
More information is available on Barnsley CCG’s news page.
My thanks go to our partners at the NHS, as well as the many volunteers and council staff who have stepped up so quickly and selflessly this week to make this possible.
I also thank everyone who has had their Covid vaccines. As always, Barnsley people lead the way and our take up of the vaccine is higher than the national average with the vast majority of our population taking their vaccines when they become eligible.
It’s never too late to get your first and second doses; simply visit barnsleyccg.nhs.uk for information on drop-ins for first doses and booking an appointment for second doses.
I will be making use of my registered nursing qualification to help out with the vaccination effort at the Metrodome so I look forward to seeing some of you there!