The Interim Director of Public Health for Kent County Council says work is taking place to meet vastly increased demand for covid tests and vaccinations.
The county council is part of the Kent Resilience Forum (KRF) which also includes representatives from Medway Council, Kent and Medway NHS, Kent Fire and Rescue Service, Kent Police and district and borough councils, working with the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the NHS nationally.
The group responds collectively to the pandemic and to support the measures being introduced in an evolving situation.
Allison Duggal, Interim Director of Public Health for Kent County Council,said: “Omicron numbers are now increasing exponentially across Kent and Medway. Together with KRF partners we are working hard to meet vastly increased demand for tests and vaccinations.
“We urge residents to book their Covid-19 booster, and the NHS booking system is open with significantly increased availability. If you haven’t had a jab yet, we know that even one dose provides some protection, while a full course significantly increases that protection.
“Remembering the basics can also help more than people might imagine. Wash or sanitise hands regularly, meet in groups outside, or open doors and windows inside. Remember to wear a face covering where required, or in any busy areas, and take regular lateral flow tests, even if you’ve been vaccinated.
“We know this is a hugely challenging and uncertain time for all our residents and we will do everything we can to offer support as the situation unfolds.”
The priority of the KRF is to support communities through the challenges they are facing as a result of the pandemic, and to ensure that vulnerable people and those most affected by Covid-19 get the help they need.
NHS vaccination capacity across the county has more than doubled. Existing sites are drafting in more staff, with support from the army in Dartford and Maidstone, and increasing opening hours. A number of new sites are being set up in Walderslade, Tunbridge Wells and Sheppey.
Chief Nurse Paula Wilkins said: “Our vaccination teams are pulling out all the stops to boost capacity so we can get more people boosted. Last week we saw a huge increase in appointments with 196,000 available across over 60 vaccine sites. On Saturday 18 December we had our biggest ever Covid-19 vaccine day with over 33,700 jabs given; beating our previous record of 28,000 from March.
“Vaccine teams across Kent and Medway are bringing in more staff and extending hours and days to help more people get boosted. It’s been an amazing response to the Government’s call to offer a booster to all eligible over-18s by the end of the year.
“In most cases we are focussing on bookable appointments. With demand high and it being winter we want to limit the need for people to queue outside without a confirmed appointment. There are a few walk-in options and if specific sites have spare capacity on any given day, they may promote time-limited walk-in options; but please double check a clinic is offering walk-ins before travelling.”
The Prime Minster has today (December 21) said there are no plans to introduce further restrictions before Christmas despite the “surge” of the Omicron variant.
He said: “Naturally we can’t rule out any further measures after Christmas and we are going to keep a constant eye on the data, “but added that in view of the uncertainty about the severity of Omicron, hospitalisation rates and the impact of vaccines and boosters:” We don’t think, today, that there is enough evidence to justify any tougher measures before Christmas.”
I wanted to confirm that people can go ahead with their Christmas plans.
But we’re keeping a constant eye on the data and can’t rule out any further measures after Christmas.
— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) December 21, 2021
Covid-19 vaccinations are available to anyone over-12, while anyone over-18 can book their booster jab no less than three months after their second dose.
Appointments are available via the national booking system at www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination or by calling 119.
Walk in clinics in Thanet
The Saga site at Ramsgate – to the rear of Westwood Cross – is open 8am to 8pm (closed 1pm-2pm) each day other than Sunday’s where the site closes at 2pm.
Also open on Christmas Eve from 8am until 2 pm
Closed for Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
From 27th till 30th of December, opening again from 8am until 8pm.
On 31st December (New Years Eve) open from 8am until 2pm.
The Ramsgate GP hub is also offering bank holiday walk in clinics on:
Monday 27th December 9am to 3pm – East Cliff Practice, Montefiore Medical Centre
Tuesday 28th December 9am to 3pm – East Cliff Practice, Montefiore Medical Centre
Tuesday 28th December 9am to 1pm –The Grange Practice, Montefiore Medical Centre
Providing 1st, 2nd, 3rd and booster jabs. The Grange can offer vaccinations to 12-15 year olds as well as the other cohorts on the Tuesday.
Visit www.kent.gov.uk/symptomfreetest for details of all the ways to access symptom free tests.
Find help and support from Kent Together at www.kent.gov.uk/kenttogether.
Winter health campaign
KCC has also launched a winter health campaign celebrating Kent and Medway’s hard-working key workers.
Now running on buses and posters, with support online, the campaign reminds people of all the steps that can be taken to stay well this winter.
A teacher, pharmacist, store assistant and a nurse all feature with a reminder that, in protecting ourselves, we help protect key workers so that they can go to work as safely as possible.
The campaign is part of the ‘Protect Kent and Medway’ initiative that launched in the early days of Covid-19 and which has evolved alongside the pandemic, with the aim of keeping all residents as safe as possible.