'The pandemic isn't over' - Sheffield health boss offers upbeat assessment of Covid situation but warns against complacency

Sheffield’s most senior public health official has urged people to stick to the rules after it was revealed that some people who have had just one vaccination are beginning to ignore them.

Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 3:31 pm
Updated Wednesday, 10th March 2021, 3:35 pm

Sheffield director of public health Greg Fell said that data shows that about two in every five people aged 80 and above are meeting people other than a support worker after getting their first vaccination.

But he said that people are not fully vaccinated until they have had their second dose and it was important that everybody continued to follow the rules until that happened.

He said: “The first dose of the vaccine starts the process of building up protection but the second dose is the thing that seals the deal so it’s really, really important you get two doses.”

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Greg Fell, director of public health at Sheffield Council.

The warning came as part of Mr Fell’s position statement for March 8 which otherwise offered an upbeat assessment of the coronavirus data in Sheffield.

He said that despite cases in Sheffield still being higher than the England average, most indicators were moving ‘fairly consistently in the right direction’ and there was evidence that the city was seeing a ‘second wind’ after the figures had plateaued over recent weeks.

He said: “We are getting back to a place where we were in September and our rates are now well below 100 per 100,000 and continuing to fall and that improvement is beginning to accelerate again.

“Rates in the elderly are beginning to come down and numbers of people in hospital is coming down really quite quickly now. That is an impact of the vaccine and is also an impact of the lockdown.”

Mr Fell also said death rates and hospital admissions were coming down due to the vaccine and where cases were occurring they are tending to be milder.

And he added that if the current trajectory continued up until May when two households will be able to meet indoors, the city would be in a ‘really, really strong position’.

In terms of the vaccination programme, he revealed that more than 200,000 have been vaccinated in Sheffield, over a third of the population, and that the programme was now well into cohorts five and six of the rollout, people between the ages of 65 and 70 and younger people with health complaints.

But he warned that it was still important that everybody carried on following the rules so that virus transmission in the home and at work were kept to a minimum.

He said: “As lockdown eases it will be tempting to drop our guard, relax our behavior and forget about the virus. But the pandemic isn't over.

“We’re in a game of football: Covid FC vs Sheffield FC. We’ve equalised 3-3 with 15 minutes until the final whistle but the game isn’t over and we need that final push to get us to full time and score the winning goal.

“Every little thing we do helps keep those numbers dropping so what we’re asking people to do is not be the person who brought Covid home. We’re on the final stretch here now.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.