Health leaders have highlighted that there are currently 244 hospital beds occupied by confirmed COVID-19 patients this week. Of these, 239 patients are occupying acute medical meds, with the remaining 5 occupying critical care beds.
The best way for the public to protect themselves against COVID-19 is to have the autumn booster vaccine if they are eligible. People who are aged 50 and over, have suppressed immune systems, are pregnant, have a learning disability or another health issue have already been invited to come forward for their latest dose of the life-saving vaccine.
People who are at risk are able to self-declare and do not need to wait for an invite, and can attend a walk-in site or book in online at www.nhs.uk/book-covid-booster. People can book in at one of hundreds of sites, including general practices, pharmacies and hospital hubs, or at a walk-in site. Anyone who needs help making an appointment should call 119.
So far in Lancashire and South Cumbria more than 320,000 people have had their autumn booster in just over a month, most of them being delivered to people aged 65 and over and those most at risk from COVID-19.
Vaccine sites include St John’s Shopping Centre in Preston and The Charter Walk shopping Centre, Burnley, and services have ensured getting the latest jab is as convenient as possible, with available sites listed on the online walk-in finder.
The autumn booster campaign is among a package of NHS measures to prepare for winter as the health service continues to face record demand for its urgent and emergency care services, including ramping up bed capacity, increasing the number of 999 and NHS 111 staff, and working with colleagues in social care to ensure patients can be discharged in a timely manner.
Jane Scattergood, Senior Responsible Officer, Lancashire and South Cumbria Vaccination Programme, said: “Viruses, like Flu and COVID-19, spread much more easily in winter when we socialise indoors, so it’s important that everyone eligible tops up their protection ahead of the festive period.
“This year it is easier than ever for all over 50s across Lancashire and South Cumbria to book their flu and COVID-19 vaccinations through the national booking service.”
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, Director of Public Health for Lancashire County Council, said: “While vaccines remain our best defence against COVID-19, it is not the only thing we can do. If you feel unwell and have flu-like or COVID-19 symptoms and a high temperature avoid close contact with others and stay at home if you can.
“Try to let in fresh air when you meet others indoors, wash your hands regularly and wear a face mask in crowded and enclosed places, where possible. It’s important that we continue to take these simple precautions to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”
Dr Michael Gregory, Medical Director, NHS England North West, said: “I’d urge everyone eligible to protect themselves as much as possible this winter by ensuring they vaccinate themselves against COVID-19 and the Flu. It will help protect them, and their loved ones.”