North Yorkshire health chiefs are urging the public not to be complacent even if they’ve had the vaccine.
Officials say the rollout of the vaccination programme has been going well in the county, with priority groups – including the over-80s, front-line health and social care staff and those who live or work in care homes – the first to get their jabs.
However, health leaders in North Yorkshire are reminding people that even if they’ve had the vaccine, it’s crucial to continue to follow national guidelines, which are to stay at home unless for specific exceptions, wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering where appropriate and keep your social distance.
The vaccines, which NHS officials say have been extensively tested, are given as an injection into your upper arm in two doses, with the second following three to 12 weeks after the first.
While the first dose should give you good protection against the effects of COVID-19 in a few weeks, it’s important to remember you could still catch or spread the virus – including the more infectious new UK variant.
Dr Nigel Wells, NHS Vale of York CCG Clinical Chair and Selby GP, said: “Cases across the area remain high and there is still enormous pressure on the NHS both locally and nationally.
“The optimism and confidence around COVID-19 vaccines may lead to people becoming more lax in their behaviours, in a way that entirely undermines the benefits of the programme. Whilst the vaccine is really great news and a cause for optimism, there is still a long way to go. The vaccine alone will not stop the spread of the virus.
“I know we are all really keen to get back to seeing our family, friends and loved ones; however, now is not the time to lose our focus on the long-term goals and become complacent.
“The best thing we can all do to protect ourselves, our families and our communities is to keep following the guidance; wash your hands, cover your face, and make space.”
Sue Peckitt, NHS North Yorkshire CCG Chief Nurse, said: “We know that the vaccination will help protect people from serious illness due to Covid-19 from a few weeks after the first dose. However, like with many vaccinations, a second injection is needed to boost this protection.
“People who have received a vaccination may also still transmit the disease to others. It is imperative that people continue to follow the Government guidelines even after they have received their vaccination. This will help us reduce the prevalence of this deadly disease in our communities and keep the people we love safe.”
The COVID-19 vaccination programme has been planned extensively by the NHS so it can be rolled out as quickly and safely as possible.
This programme of vaccination is the largest in the history of the NHS.
In England, the vaccine is being offered in some hospitals and pharmacies, at hundreds of local vaccination centres run by GPs and at larger vaccination centres.
More centres are opening all the time and everyone will be offered a vaccine in due course.
However, to help keep pressure off services it is important not to contact the NHS about the vaccine until you’ve been notified that it’s your turn.
The vaccine is free – the NHS will never ask for bank details, account numbers, pins or passwords, or for copies of personal documents such as a driving licence, passport or payslip.