The traffic light system for travel abroad has now become much more simplified and easier and there is a huge advantage if you have been fully vaccinated. From Monday, October 4th – there will be just two types of destinations– Red listed countries and the rest. So if you arrive back from a non-red listed country all you need to do now is carry out a lateral flow test (LFT) 2 days and 8 days after returning. These LFTs are much quicker and much cheaper than laboratory-based PCR tests. These changes should be in place by half-term in October. If your LFT is positive then you have to isolate and get a PCR test. These PCRs for the vaccinated will be free. If you’re still unvaccinated you will have to take day 2 and day 8 PCR tests on return. So travel will be much easier and cheaper for those who are fully vaccinated and will get more difficult for those that are not. The UK will also recognise certain vaccines done in other countries including Moderna and Janssen. However the Chinese made Sinopharm vaccine – often used in the Middle East, Africa and parts of Asia is still not recognised and travellers into the UK will be assumed to be unvaccinated. So many people and their children will be getting a welcome holiday but as always do take the usual precautions to keep safe. Before travel has a look at the country’s profile to see how they are coping with the pandemic. The website www.worldometer.com is very useful and can give you case figures for every country.
These changes to travel may persuade those who are non-vaccinated to get the jabs. Over 80% of the adult population in the UK has been fully vaccinated but that still leaves almost 6 million who are not. The government has shelved the idea of ‘vaccine-passports’ at the moment but the evidence from Europe is that they do work. France and Italy who introduced mandatory vaccine passports for restaurants as well as public venues have much lower infection rates than us.
The high number of cases and deaths in the UK is putting added pressure on the NHS. If you go to your local supermarket or most other stores people are wearing masks less and less. One would almost think the pandemic is behind us. That’s far from reality but I think many people have become ‘immune to the numbers as they are bombarded on a daily basis. There’s some truth in the saying by Stalin – ‘ a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.’ As a reminder, the UK recorded 164 deaths in the last 24 hrs and 30,144 new cases. Many of those people who died did not believe that it could happen to them. Many were elderly but there are a number of people dying from this virus who are under 60. More children are also being hospitalised and dying from Covid and suffering the chronic effects of ‘Long Covid.’ So please do take care out there – wear your mask in public places, meet in well ventilated places and get your vaccination. The shorter cooler days over the next 6 months will inevitably mean a surge in infections but we can minimise this if we all take sensible precautions. If we don’t the danger is that we will be getting compulsory mask wearing again and another lockdown. I understand that there are still people out there who are reluctant to get vaccinated. That is up to you but please don’t listen to anti-vaxxers. If you were worried about your blood pressure, or your cholesterol or were anaemic – would you get advice from someone on social media? You would hopefully go to a professional. So please talk to a doctor or nurse if you are still unsure about vaccination. They will give you a balanced view. For the vast majority of people, the only side effects you get after vaccination is a sore arm, some aches and pains and a temp for a few days and then you make a full recovery. Vaccines do not interfere with your fertility or cause impotence. The risk of getting a clot after a vaccine is extremely low but the risks of getting a clot with Covid is much higher. Children from 12 years and upwards will also get definite protection from the jab. Unfortunately, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has been giving a very confused and mixed message to parents. They say these children at not at great risk of Covid. Yet this is totally contrary to the evidence from other countries – vaccinating children will protect them, significantly reduce the chance of Long Covi, stop them passing on the infection to other children and adults and reduce disruption to their education.
Booster jabs have now started to be given and the data from other countries shows that if you are over 60 and had your 2nd jab over 5 months ago then having the booster makes you 11 times less likely to get infected with Covid. Also, the booster makes you almost 20 times less likely to get a severe infection. So overall if you are over 60 yrs old, had your 2nd jab over 5 months ago then a booster is highly protective.
As well as Covid surge doctors expect a flu epidemic this year and we are already seeing an increase in the numbers of other infections in children including croup, bronchiolitis, middle ear infections, and tonsillitis.
With added pressures on the NHS waiting times for operations and outpatient appointments have increased dramatically. Some people have been cancelled several times due to a shortage of doctors, nurses and operation capacity. If you have an issue with the hospital such as persistent cancellations or receiving a ‘did not attend letter (but you had an appointment or actually cancelled it) - please don’t call us – there’s not much we can do as GPs. Instead, call PALS – the Patient Advice and Liaison Service. You can talk to them directly at the local hospital by asking the switchboard to put you through. They will talk to the hospital team on your behalf and are an excellent service for getting things done. But they can only handle problems not long waiting times which every patient has to endure these days.
Stay Safe Everyone
Bye for now
Dr M Tanvir Jamil
Burnham Health Centre