Vaccine figures boost as health official warns of most important weeks yet

The county faces the most important weeks of the pandemic according to a health official, as figures show more than 95 per cent of over 65s have now been vaccinated.

More than 95 per cent of over 65s have now been vaccinated in the county
More than 95 per cent of over 65s have now been vaccinated in the county

As case rates drop across the county public health officials have asked people not to waste the hard work of lockdown, and called for "one last push" to drive infection numbers down.

The call comes as NHS figures show 99.3 per cent of people over 65 in Telford & Wrekin have now received at least the first dose of a vaccination, with Shropshire seeing 95.5 per cent having had one jab, or more.

Despite falls in infections and the number of patients admitted to the county's hospitals, both are still considerably higher than last summer.

In the week up to February 25 there were 87 Covid patients at the Royal Shrewsbury and Princess Royal Hospitals, with 22 people dying with the virus.

The infection rates for Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin also remain above the national average.

The latest vaccination figures, which cover the seven days up to February 28, show that 22,746 jabs were carried out in the week.

It means the number of people to have received a vaccination rose from 159,567 on February 20 to 182,313 on February 28.

'Last big push'

As the programme continues both Liz Noakes and Rachel Robinson, directors of public health at Telford & Wrekin & Shropshire Council respectively, have asked the public to remain cautious ahead of the lifting of lockdown rules.

Mrs Robinson said that she was aware of the ongoing frustration of living under lockdown, but asked people to help get the county in the right place ahead of the lifting of restrictions.

She said: “The fact that the number of cases is reducing week-by-week is really encouraging.

“But as the weather improves and the evenings get lighter, people may be tempted to let their guard down and take unnecessary risks.

"I know everyone has been asked to live under restrictions for almost a year now and it is becoming more and more difficult and I am thankful for the sacrifices everyone has made up to this point, however we do need one last big push if we want to be in a position where all restrictions are lifted on June 21

“These next few weeks are probably the most important we have had locally during this pandemic.

"Everything we are doing now does make a difference so please, try not to become complacent about things such as social distancing – do keep your space, and wear face coverings.”

Telford

Mrs Noakes said that Telford was still seeing a slower decline in case rates than elsewhere.

She said: "I want to show my appreciation for the sacrifices our residents have made and continue to make to help control this virus. This decline is welcome news.

"The planned easing of lockdown restrictions gives us all hope after these challenging winter months for both our residents and local businesses.

"But it is essential to acknowledge that we still have a long way to go.

"Relaxing too early will cost lives, and new strains can develop, so we must all continue to play our part.

"In Telford and Wrekin, we are focusing on preventing the spread of the virus in workplaces.

"I want to encourage people who cannot work from home to get a rapid test at least twice a week.

"People must self-isolate for the legal requirement of 10 days if they test positive or are close contacts of a colleague who tests positive.

"Also, avoid car-sharing where possible, follow hands-face-space when you're at work or on a break and make sure workspaces are ventilated.”

She added: "As children return to the classroom I would also urge families to have a rapid test twice every week.

“Such testing will be vital in reducing local cases by containing outbreaks early.”

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