Agenda item

COVID 19: Update and Report on Vaccination Programme

To receive a joint presentation from the Director of Public Health (Cumbria County Council), North Cumbria and Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Groups (copy to follow).



The Board received a detailed presentation from the Director of Public Health (Cumbria County Council), Chief Operating Officer (North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group) and Director of Planning and Performance (Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group) which illustrated a COVID 19 update and report on the vaccination programme.


The Director of Public Health informed the Board that although substantial challenges still remained there were clear indications that Cumbria was past the peak of the second wave of the pandemic and, according to recent data, the future was looking more positive.  Whilst he welcomed the recent positive update it was highlighted that rates did still remain high and emphasised it was imperative that they continued to reduce.


The Board also received encouraging news from North Cumbria and Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Groups in their continued fight against the pandemic.


A discussion took place regarding the patterns of mortality across the county and members were informed it was clear that COVID 19 affected people in more socially economically deprived areas to a greater extent than other areas.  It was explained that the pandemic exacerbated and identified health inequalities, therefore, it was felt imperative that in the recovery phase the Board should consider supporting and tacking inequalities in order to have a more robust and resilient system in the county for the future.


The Board considered the Strategic Framework and officers emphasised that the continuation of good communication was critical to enable the public to understand the county’s response to the pandemic and maintain their trust.  Officers highlighted the importance of prevention and felt all agencies had a key part to play emphasising the need for all organisations to have COVID secure measures in place to avoid transmission.


Members noted that support was being provided to other organisations to encourage them to become COVID secure and, therefore, enable them to function effectively and safely.  It was explained that the county’s infection, prevention and control function had been strengthened in order to provide this support.


The Board was informed that a major focus of work had been around prevention and that all agencies played a substantial role in this; highlighting in particular the role of the County Council, district councils, Police and Lake District National Park in the implementation of local regulations.


Members received positive information regarding test, trace and isolate and it was explained that Cumbria was ahead of many other parts of the country.  The Board noted that the contact tracing system which had been implemented in May was a substantial partnership with other agencies, including district councils as well as colleagues from sexual health services in the North Cumbria NHS System who had been instrumental in providing capacity to start contact tracing.  Officers explained that there was now integration with the national system who worked closely with the county if they were unable to contact and trace within 24 hours and had proved invaluable.


The Board received an update on the complex mix of testing options which included the lateral flow testing programme being made available to staff in the NHS, social care, schools, and organisations with over 250 employees.  It was explained that locally there was a focus on key frontline staff in a range of organisations such as Police, Fire Service, County Council and district councils frontline staff, early years settings and other work places with fewer than 50 employees also being included.


Members then discussed isolation and the implications this could have for individuals.  It was explained that measures were in place to provide additional support to those struggling financially during self?isolation with a discretionary grant being available from district councils.


The Board then received an update on progress regarding the roll out of the vaccination programme.  Colleagues from both north and south Cumbria felt confident they were on course to have vaccinated the vast majority of the four highest priority groups by the middle of February.  It was explained that the four top priority groups, which were identified by the national Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation included care home residents, all those over the age of 70 and frontline health and social care workers.


Members were informed that by the end of January, more than 55,000 people across north Cumbria had received their first vaccine, with more vaccinations still taking place and indicative figures showed that 65,000 patients registered with a Morecambe Bay practice had also received the vaccine.


The Board noted that across north Cumbria there had been very little vaccine hesitancy or denial but work was ongoing across the whole of the county to identify and support those groups who were either anxious about the vaccine or were actively resistant in terms of anti?vaccination messages.


A discussion took place regarding the take?up of the vaccination by the BAME population and those with learning disabilities.  The Board was informed that in the South Cumbria the numbers vaccinated were higher than expected and those communities continued to be encouraged but nationally the take?up was much lower.  Officers explained that a future analysis of data would be undertaken to encourage vaccinations to take place. 


A discussion took place regarding the social care sector and officers explained that due to the impact on them a key focus had been to ensure the vaccination programme was rolled out as effectively and as quickly as possible within both residential and nursing homes.


A member asked when the vaccination would be made available to teachers and school staff and it was explained that national guidance had to be followed.


The Board discussed the effects of the pandemic on the mental health services in the county.  Members were informed that services remained available despite the increased demand and significant pressures with regards to bed shortages, children’s crisis services and waiting times.  It was explained that progress was being made with new developments such as international recruitment. 


The Board acknowledged the significant pressures on the system in the future and felt that the wellbeing of the workforce had to be a top priority.


A discussion took place regarding the recovery phase and the Board was informed that due to the second wave of the pandemic the consultation, which sat alongside the Recovery Strategy Development, would be extended to at least the end of March with further responses being encouraged from the public together with the opportunity for various partner organisations to respond.


In conclusion, the Chair, on behalf the Board thanked officers for their presentation and paid tribute to everyone involved for their tremendous efforts during the pandemic.


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