To receive a presentation and briefing from a Public Health perspective regarding the latest developments in Rotherham’s response to COVID-19.
Consideration was given to a briefing presented by Ben Anderson, Director of Public Health, which provided an overview of the latest COVID-29 surveillance data. Data around vaccination rollout and vaccine effectiveness was presented. Variants of concern and under investigation were identified. A Rotherham infection rate summary was provided along with comparative information regarding other areas of the country. Analysis of trends was presented along with plans for further vaccination sites.
In discussion, members requested more information about the availability of drop-in vaccinations for residents who did not get their jab when previously invited. The response noted that the national centre is at Sheffield Arena, but locally there is availability through the Primary Care Network. Residents who may have missed their invitation are encouraged to ring the booking line. While drop-in access was not presently available, there would be plans to begin drop-in vaccination clinics following the completion of the vaccination of the under-25 group.
Members also requested assurances that studies were being conducted to capture learning from the Pandemic. The response from officers and the Cabinet Member affirmed that multiple studies were currently in production by the Local Resilience Forum and the Local Outbreak Engagement Board for example, which could be circulated as soon as they are published.
Members expressed interest in knowing more details around the uptake of the second jab and any plans to offer “mobile” vaccines. The response from officers noted that the programme was still seeing good uptake from over 50s as they are being called back at 11 weeks or sooner for the second jab, and the daily update from the CCG on vaccine coverage covers all data. A few people may not be taking up the second vaccine because they may have had a strong reaction to the first or have seen information about blood clots since having the first vaccine. As the programme enters the tail, there are plans to follow up with these people individually to understand the decision they are making. There is an option to offer a different type of vaccine for the second jab, although it is better to have both of the same kind and the risk of blood clot remains very minimal. As the programme moves through different cohorts, there has been a very different response from the 20 somethings than the 70 somethings.
Members wished to know if the ripple from the 17 May was of concern to Public Health. Officers noted in response that increased transmission was always expected, but the government’s test is around the impact on severe disease, hospitalisation. The concern is not case rates going up; it is the severe case rates. The decision will be made next week taking all this into account.
Members further requested clarification around the availability of GP and dental appointments. The response noted that some GP appointments had to be rescheduled, but overall more patients can be seen more rapidly via virtual means than in person. Social distancing can cause reduced capacity. Dentistry has been more affected, with the generation of aerosol during the process, so recovery will take longer for Dentistry to catch up.
Members requested assurances that the lag in cohorts not getting the vaccine was being addressed. In response, officers noted that 2000 clinically extremely vulnerable residents were offered and received their vaccinations at home. Other residents for whom access is an issue because of work or caring commitments, those constraints were being mitigated by better local availability, for example with local schools becoming vaccination sites. While some remain unwilling to take up the vaccine, for those who have been unable or could not afford to do so, local options are turning that around.
Members also requested information regarding the presence of non-covid respiratory illnesses in the population. The response from officers noted that the population during lockdown saw almost no flu or RSV and currently has very low respiratory illnesses. As we go into autumn and winter, these will likely rise.
The Chair remarked at the excellent delivery of the vaccination programme in Rotherham with a thank you to the staff and volunteers.
1. That the update be noted.
2. That relevant reviews which capture learning from the Pandemic such as that published by the Local Resilience Forum (LRF) be circulated to Members as they become available.
3. That the staff and volunteers responsible for the successful delivery of the vaccination programme in Rotherham be thanked on behalf of the Chair.