07 Jan 2022

Local residents are being urged to get their Covid vaccinations as soon as possible as local infection rates in the area reach their highest levels yet.

With the spread of the new Omicron variant accelerating through the borough in recent weeks, the number of new positive cases has increased sharply with infection rates now at the highest locally since the pandemic began.

St Helens also now has one of the highest infection rates of any local authority area in the country with 2,611 cases per 100,000 people recorded in the week leading up to the 3rd January,

During the same period there were 4,716 confirmed new cases recorded. This is three times higher than the number of cases that were recorded in January last year, previously one of the peak periods in the pandemic.

In addition there are currently 120 people in Whiston Hospital who have Covid-19 with numbers continuing to increase – with 37 specifically being treated for complications of the virus.

Positive cases have notably started to increase among residents in the borough aged 60 and over, who remain the most vulnerable to serious illness as a result of Covid-19.

All age groups in the borough aged 12 upwards are encouraged to get their first, second or booster vaccinations as soon as they can to help prevent infection rates locally escalating further. In particular those who haven’t had their booster vaccination should take the opportunity to have it as this is the best protection to have against the now dominant Omicron variant. All Covid-19 vaccinations will collectively help to reduce the risk of developing serious illness from the virus.

Anyone aged 12 and over can now access their first or second vaccinations and if you are aged 18 or over, and had your second dose at least three months ago (91 days), you can also now book your booster vaccination as well.

To book an appointment at your nearest vaccination centre, visit Book or manage a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination - NHS (www.nhs.uk)

The Mass Vaccination Centre and the Allied Pharmacy clinic both based at the Saints Stadium in St Helens currently also have plenty of capacity for daily walk-ins for both first, second and booster jabs.

This weekend (8 and 9 January) you can walk in for a jab from 8am until 7.30pm at the Mass Vaccination Centre on the second floor and until 4pm at the Allied Pharmacy clinic on the ground floor.

Ruth du Plessis, Director of Public Health at St Helens Borough Council, said: “The Omicron variant has already shown it can spread much more quickly than previous versions of the virus and this is being reflected in the very high case numbers we are now seeing in the borough.

“If we are to protect ourselves and others at this time it is so important that residents take the opportunity to get their vaccinations. Not only is it important for your own health but it could be vital in helping older and more vulnerable people that you come into contact with, particularly within your own family.

“We would also encourage people to keep testing themselves regularly, at least twice a week ideally, as even fully vaccinated you can still pass on the virus to others often without showing any symptoms yourself”.

Symptom free lateral flow testing kits are available to use for free. You can order a pack of lateral flow tests at https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests We are aware that there have been some issues with the national booking system. However, kits can be collected at St Mary’s market and local pharmacies https://maps.test-and-trace.nhs.uk/ or https://www.sthelens.gov.uk/coronavirus/covid-19-testing/symptom-free-testing/

You should also register your results so we know who has been tested and where rates are at the highest and lowest. You can register your results via the following link:  https://bit.ly/3k15CdW