Rush for Covid-19 boosters as Northampton and Kettering NHS hospitals brace for staff shortages amid rise in Omicron cases

County's 'Jabs Army' delivers more than 13,000 doses in one day in race to keep variant at bay for Christmas

By Kevin Nicholls
Monday, 20th December 2021, 8:58 am
Updated Monday, 20th December 2021, 9:00 am

A rush for booster jabs in the run-up to Christmas has been welcomed by health chiefs as Northamptonshire hospitals deal with more Covid-19 patients.

The 'Jabs Army' of NHS staff backed up by volunteers saw more than 13,300 people receive a booster dose in a single day, according to government figures published on Sunday (December 19).

That is more than double the 5,851 announced on December 10 — the day after the first Omicron cases were confirmed in the county.

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Demand for booster jabs has risen sharply during the last week

But officials still fear a surge in cases sparked by households mixing and families travelling over Christmas will pile pressure on the NHS.

Saturday's announcement of 971 positive tests in a 24-hour period was the second highest in all of 2021, only beaten by 1,043 confirmed on January 5.

Government data confirmed 5,301 new cases in the seven days to Sunday (December 19) compared to 4,367 the week before.

That followed NHS England figures showing hospital cases in Northamptonshire were the highest since February with 127 patients admitted by last Sunday (December 12).

The number of people getting booster jabs has more than doubled in just over a week

At Kettering General Hospital, the number rose by nearly 150 percent from 28 at the start of the month to 68.

KGH also saw 16 patients sadly die while being treated for the virus between December 1 and December 14. Another eight Covid patients died at Northampton General Hospital over the same period.

Officials also fear the rise in cases will hit hospitals as staff are forced to self-isolate.

County director of Public Health, Lucy Wightman, said: “We are seeing case numbers double roughly every two days so each and every one of us needs to do whatever we can do to stop the spread, reduce the pressure on the NHS and protect ourselves and others.

"The choices we all make across the coming weeks and days will make a difference to the NHS’s ability to keep residents safe.”

More drop-in clinics delivering boosters without an appointment are being run across the county this week — including on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day.

A list of locations is updated daily for anyone over 18 who had a second dose of vaccine more than three months ago can just turn up for a jab.

■ Click HERE to see the full list of drop-in vaccination clinics.

Appointments for boosters can also be booked via the NHS website or by calling 119.

Researchers at Imperial College London say a Covid booster shot provides around 85 percent protection against severe illness from anyone catching the Omicron variant and the top-up dose should keep thousands out of hospital.

Mrs Wightman added: “While there is so much we don’t know in terms of the severity of the Omicron variant, the scientific community is agreed on its rapid transmissibility.

“We don’t want people to panic but we need residents to realise that this is a very real and immediate threat.

“Regular testing is important but so too are the basics around face coverings, hand washing and social distancing that are all effective tools in helping combat the virus' spread."

■ Click HERE for information on how to get tested for Covid-19.