Katie Spence, Director of Health Protection for PHE in the West Midlands, writes:
“THIS week marked the final step of a very long journey everyone in the West Midlands has taken over this last 17 months. We can now fully embrace life’s opportunities, as long as we keep Covid-19 in our thoughts.
“Covid-19 has not gone away, but it is reducing because of the vaccination roll out. There are simple steps we can take to keep ourselves, family and friends safe in this new environment – wearing face coverings in more crowded areas such as in supermarkets and public transport; maintaining good hand hygiene; keeping our distance where appropriate; meeting friends outside, particularly during the summer months, and making sure if meeting indoors that rooms are well ventilated. Most of all, we can and should get vaccinated.
“Self-isolation is no longer required for double jabbed contacts of people with the virus. However there are still a quarter of eligible people who have not had both jabs in England, and a third of the West Midlands population without maximum protection. Vaccines work and will bring this pandemic to an end, so it is vital that anyone who has not had their jabs get them at the earliest opportunity, receiving the second dose eight weeks after the first.
“There are still some people in higher risk groups who have not had one or both doses of the vaccine, which is of great concern, among these are pregnant women. The region’s hospitals are seeing a number of unvaccinated pregnant women admitted because they are seriously ill with the virus. The advice is clear, the vaccine is safe and is the best protection for women and their unborn child, and NHS colleagues are doing all they can to encourage uptake, including offering vaccines at antenatal clinics.
“These changes to self-isolation rules are not only important for restoring more freedoms, but to support our local business and economy and the education of our children and young people, who have suffered so much through this pandemic. So, let’s welcome this final step, enjoy summer, and build a future where COVID-19 is part of our lives, but does not prevent us living life to the full.”