One in five Northamptonshire folk likely to NOT be vaccinated by Freedom Day
County's heath chief admits PM's easing restrictions could be seen as a gamble
Around one in five Northamptonshire adults are likely to be unvaccinated if Covid-19 restrictions are lifted on July 19 despite being offered jabs.
Many scientists and doctors say Boris Johnson is taking a huge gamble by removing legal restrictions and encouraging people to use their personal judgment over the risk of infection.
The PM added that vaccines breaking the link between Covid cases and deaths had boosted the case to end most legal restrictions in England.
Latest figures show 506,222 people had received a first jab up to Sunday (July 4) — 76.9 percent of the adult population — leaving around 150,000 unjabbed.
Northamptonshire is on target to offer vaccinations to everybody aged 18-and-over by July 18, but the uptake means around 20 per cent are likely to be unprotected.
County Public Health director Lucy Wightman admitted the decision to lift restrictions could be seen as a gamble, saying: "It feels uncomfortable while case rates are still escalating rapidly as they have in the last week.
But she added: "I do recognise this is a really difficult decision and at some point we do have to take a step forward and live with the level of risk as we do with a number of infectious diseases.
"You can still catch Covid if you've been vaccinated and you can still pass it on. It just means you're less likely to be seriously ill with it. So we've got to recognise there are still risks out there and we need to be cautious."
The number of people testing positive in the county has risen to 992 over the last week according to data published yesterday (Monday) compared to 471 during the previous seven days.
Requirements to self-isolate after testing positive or after coming into contact with an infected person will remain in place. But the PM wants contacts who are fully vaccinated to be exempt and further details are to be set out.
Mr Johnson admitted that new cases nationally are doubling every nine days which would mean 50,000 a day by July 19, adding: "We must reconcile ourselves, sadly, to more deaths from Covid."
But on lifting restrictions, he said: "If we don't go ahead now when we've clearly done so much with the vaccination programme to break the link ... when would we go ahead?
“We run the risk of either opening up at a very difficult time when the virus has an edge, has an advantage, in the cold months, or again putting everything off to next year."
An announcement is due on Monday (July 12) over whether rules forcing people to wear face masks and on social distancing will be scrapped as planned on Freedom Day seven days later.
Northamptonshire's vaccine programme director, Chris Pallot, said: “I want to encourage anyone who hasn’t yet had their jab to come forward.
"Vaccination is our best possible protection from coronavirus and is our route back to normal life. Everyone aged 18 and above is eligible and the more of us who are vaccinated the safer we will all be."
NHS England yesterday confirmed the death of a Covid-19 patient being treated by Northamptonshire Healthcare Foundation Trust on Friday (July 2).
The trust operates from 25 locations including a number of community hospitals at Northampton, Brackley, Corby, Kettering and Daventry and also health services at eight prisons outside the county. It has not been disclosed where any of the 22 Covid-related deaths at NHFT establishments occurred during the pandemic.
Northamptonshire's two acute NHS hospitals have reported one Covid-releated death since mid-April.
Latest NHS figures showed three patients with the virus were being treated in the hospitals at Northampton and Kettering on June 29 — with one in critical care — down from six earlier in the same week.
■ Anyone aged 18 or over is eligible for a Covid-19 vaccination — book online HERE any time or call 119 free between 7am and 11pm, seven days a week. You can turn up without an appointment at Moulton Park Vaccination Centre any day between 5.30pm and 7.30pm.
■ Anyone with Covid-19 symptoms — a new, continuous cough, high temperature, or loss or change in sense of taste — should immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test online HERE or by calling 119.