Sheffield Covid: NHS on a 'war footing' against Omicron as Christmas approaches

The NHS is on a ‘war footing’ against Omicron as health professionals continue to deliver the booster in the days before Christmas.

Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 3:28 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd December 2021, 3:28 pm

Since Boris Johnson announced that all adults would be offered the booster before the new year, it has been all hands to the pump across Sheffield’s healthcare system to meet the target before Omicron’s spread escalates further.

Last weekend was dubbed ‘the great vaccine weekender’ in the city, and saw more than 30,000 boosters, first and second doses of the vaccine given out in Sheffield.

It comes in the face of the rise of the more transmissable Omicron variant. The more people who can be vaccinated before the variant reaches its predicted peak in January, the fewer serious illnesses and hospitalisations there ought to be – reducing pressure on the health service.

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A man receives a dose of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in a vaccination clinic set up at St Columba's Church in Sheffield on December 15, 2021 as the UK steps up the country's booster drive to fight a "tidal wave" of Omicron. - The country's medical advisers have raised the Covid Alert Level due to a "rapid increase" in infection from the variant. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

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And while the record for the number of jabs in a day is regularly beaten as the booster push continues, it remains a difficult time for the staff under pressure to deliver it.

NHS national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said: “The NHS is on a war footing and staff are taking the fight to omicron, by boosting hundreds of thousands of people each day, treating thousands of seriously ill covid patients and delivering urgent care for other conditions, all while seeing a worrying, high and rising increase in absence due to covid.

“We are once again ramping up to deal with the rise in covid infections, and quite rightly staff are making every possible preparation for the uncertain challenges of omicron, including recruiting thousands of nurses and reservists, but while we’ll leave no stone unturned to get the NHS battle ready, it remains the case that the best way to protect yourself and others is to follow guidance and to come forward and get your first, second and booster jabs.”

Dr Tom Holdsworth

In Sheffield, a total of 1,059,654 have been given. 252,988 are boosters, 385,666 are second doses and 421,000 are first doses, according to latest Government data.

This means that as of December 21, 78.5 per cent of the city’s population over 12-years-old had been jabbed at least once.

71.9 per cent has been double jabbed, while 45.8 have been boosted.

Sheffield GP Thomas Holdsworth, of Mosborough Health Centre, encouraged people not to be concerned about side effects of the jabs, and not to delay their vaccinations over fears of side effects during the Christmas period.

He said: “We will need as many people as possible to play their part by quickly taking up the offer of booster vaccination. Vaccination is the best way to protect yourself, as well as friends and family who may be more vulnerable to Covid than you are.

“Some people might be worrying about feeling unwell after their booster and considering delaying until after the festive period. You can sometimes have a sore arm or feel tired and achy for a day or two after a vaccine so it is understandable under normal circumstances to want to organise your jab for a convenient day.

"Unfortunately at this moment delaying your vaccine is more risky because of the very infectious Omicron variant. Many people dont have any side effects from vaccination and for those that do they are usually mild and settle quickly.”

Dr Holdsworth added: “Taking some paracetamol if you feel achy or sore will often help as well as avoiding excess alcohol and making sure you have enough rest.”