Recent updates

National Shielding Programme has ended

On 16th September the Government announced its decision to end the national shielding programme for clinically extremely vulnerable people. A link to the government announcement is here: Shielding programme ends for most vulnerable – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

This is based on advice from the Chief Medical Officer looking at a number of factors

  • Vaccine take up is very high in this group
  • Vaccine efficacy is high for a large proportion* of people in this group
  • the risk of harm from shielding for extended periods is significant 

Within the current shielding group, there are people who are immuno-compromised by their clinical conditions, or immuno-suppressed from medication they take to mange their conditions. For most people in this sub-group, they will have a weaker response to vaccination – for a small number, this could be a significantly  lower level of protection (levels of protection range from 4% to 70%)  – and this group of people will be given guidance by their NHS hospital consultant/ team on how to manage their exposure to Covid-19 as well as other viruses in common circulation.

Following further study of the coronavirus, including developments in treatments for those who get the virus, the government does not think there is a continued need to distinguish the group of people who were “clinically extremely vulnerable” from the larger and wider group of people who are “clinically vulnerable” – the majority of whom would be invited for an annual free flu jab.

All over 18s who are currently classed as clinically extremely vulnerable, will be invited for a further dose of vaccination this Autumn, and some people who are immuno-compromised and immuno-suppressed will additionally be invited for a booster dose of vaccination, to be timed according to their medical treatments.

The government has now sent a letter to the 165,000  people in West Yorkshire who have been classed as clinically extremely vulnerable to make them aware of this change in policy. A copy of the letter can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19/guidance-on-shielding-and-protecting-extremely-vulnerable-persons-from-covid-19.

Local authorities and local health and care systems are currently reviewing how we will continue to support people who are at increased risk from the virus and will use local information channels to make people aware of the support that will continue to be available to them. Local support documents on Routes to Support will be revised in light of this change in policy, and will include an “FAQ” for anyone working with members of the public who may be asked questions about this, as well as the most up to date information from Departments for Work and Pensions on how this may affect employment. 

The key messages  to people who are clinically vulnerable in West Yorkshire is one of re-assurance – that the assessed risk from coronavirus is now significantly lower than it was in March 2020 when shielding was introduced. That local practical and emotional support will remain in place for people who need to reduce their risk and that we will continue to work closely as health and care partners to make sure that people are informed about the support that is available. 

Considerations for health and care partners:

  • Practical support channels will need to remain in place for the significantly immunocompromised/ immunosuppressed
  • People who are immunocompromised/ immunosuppressed are being directed to their specialists for advice on their level of risk – rather than primary care
  • Primary Care can continue to refer anyone who is clinically vulnerable – with practical or emotional support needs to their local council support teams 
  • Further advice and guidance is being sought from DWP which will be relayed to primary and secondary care about the provision of fit notes for people who are immunocompromised/ immunosuppressed who are in high exposure occupations.

The third dose of the vaccines will start to be offered in Leeds from Monday 20 September

The third dose vaccination must be given at least 6 months from the date of the second dose and in the first instance a single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech will be offered.

In line with the JCVI guidance we will be offering booster jabs to:

  • Those in residential care homes for older adults
  • All adults aged 50 years or over
  • Frontline health and social care workers (including all third sector partners)
  • All those aged 16-49 with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19
  • Adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals

We will share more information on how to access the third dose once it becomes available.

The city is preparing to deliver a schools-based vaccination programme, which is the successful model used for vaccinations including for HPV and Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio (DTP), supported by GPs and community pharmacies.

This is in line with the recommendation of the JCVI. Key points about delivery of this are as follows:

  • Invitations for vaccination will begin next week
  • Healthy school-aged children aged 12 to 15 will primarily receive their vaccination in their school with alternative provision for those who are home schooled, in secure services or specialist mental health settings
  • There are two providers of school immunisations in Leeds – Leeds Community Healthcare NHS Trust which provides a wide range of vaccination including the diphtheria, tetanus and polio booster, MMR booster, the HPV (Human papillomavirus) vaccine etc – and Intrahealth which provides the school flu vaccination programme.
  • The initial request was for school immunisation providers to provide the Covid vaccination in schools but it was clear that there was insufficient capacity in those providers to solely deliver on the programme.  The message has been clear that all business as usual vaccinations (flu and all other school immunisations) must be continued and nothing can slip as a result of the Covid programme
  • In Leeds we have had a very collaborative approach to the Covid vaccination programme and we see the schools element as an extension of that programme so we are able to offer resources from the main Covid team. There are around 40,000 children in the 12-15 year old cohort and vaccinations to them need to be offered within a six week window from 22 September (with potentially 2 weeks for mop-up at the end). We aim to attend 8-10 schools each week using 3 teams of vaccinators.
  • As the Pfizer vaccination will be used there is a 15-minute observation requirement following the jab so considerable space is needed within schools for the administration of the vaccine and observation. On Tuesday the NHS and Public Health colleagues met with Headteachers to outline the programme.  This was a very positive meeting, with support from the council, NHS, and other partners being appreciated by schools. As with other schools immunisation programmes, parental and carer consent will be sought 48 hours before vaccination and we have a simple and effective e-consenting programme in place, which many parents and carers are familiar with.

Leeds Refugee Forum has kindly produced this updated Covid guidance in different languages.

Click on the videos below to hear the guidance in Kurdish, Afghan, Farsi, Arabic, Tigrinya or English.

Kurdish

Pashto – Afghan

Farsi

Arabic

Tigrinya

English

This guidance and more information can be found here: www.gov.uk/coronavirus

There is also lots of useful myth busting information in different languages here: britishima.org/operation-vaccination/hub/covidmyths/

  • Meet outside, or open windows and doors for indoor visitors
  • If you think you have symptoms stay at home and take a PCR test
  • Wear face coverings in crowded places and on public transport
  • Check in to venues when you go out
  • Wash your hands with soap regularly, and for at least 20 seconds
  • Get vaccinated