Let’s not relax our drive to beat back COVID despite good news on the vaccine

People in Oxfordshire who have been vaccinated or are due to receive their vaccination soon are being reminded that it takes up to three weeks for an immune response to kick in.

Across the UK more than 15 million people in the top four priority groups have now received their first jab. In Oxfordshire, over 65s and people aged 16-65 with an underlying health condition are now being invited to have the vaccine, together with a small number of other groups including adult carers.

Everyone is encouraged to bear in mind that the “hands-face-space” guidance is important even after they have been given the vaccine.

Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Public Health, said: “It’s great news that the first dose of the vaccine has been given to so many people in such a short space of time. However, there is still a long way to go in the vaccination programme and we are keen that those who have now been inoculated are aware that the benefits do not kick in until around three weeks after the jab has been administered.

“Earlier this week we heard the Prime Minister, Professor Chris Whitty and Sir Simon Stevens urge continued caution looking ahead and I would wish to reflect that locally.

“Surely the last thing anybody would want to do is have their jab, drop their guard and end up catching COVID-19 before the vaccine has a chance to do its job.

“The figures for the number of people with COVID-19 in Oxfordshire have declined again this week and our weekly rate in the county has now fallen to below 100 per 100,000 for the first time since early December, which is really good news. However, the virus is still very active in the county. We await the Government’s decisions on a roadmap out of lockdown but we know it will be cautious. It is clear that we will not return to 2019 and before in one leap.

“We’ve seen before what happens when we relax too soon. The virus makes a rapid comeback and we end up in a frustrating one-step-forward two-steps back routine. Let’s not go there in 2021. Let’s see how much further we can drive down the levels of COVID-19 in Oxfordshire before lockdown ends. The lower it is, the better for all of us in both the short-term and the long-term.

“We can only drive COVID-19 into the margins by sticking to the disciplines that have lowered the numbers since midwinter. I would therefore ask everyone to please do your bit.

“We would also urge people to get a test if they are showing symptoms – including a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste. There is plenty of capacity at testing centres across the county and you will be dealt with quickly and efficiently.”

Alongside the over 65s and people aged 16-65 with an underlying health condition, vaccinations are also being offered to people who receive a carer’s allowance, or those who are the main (unpaid) carer of an elderly or disabled person or someone who has a severe mental illness or whose welfare may be at risk if the carer falls ill.

What are the weekly COVID-19 figures in Oxfordshire?

The overall number of cases per 100,000 people in Oxfordshire in the week ending February 12 was 80.5 compared to 134.6 per 100,000 the week before. The breakdown by district reads as follows:

  • Cherwell: 82.4 cases per 100,000 people
  • Oxford: 105.6 cases per 100,000 people
  • South Oxfordshire: 81.7 cases per 100,000 people
  • Vale of White Horse: 65.4 cases per 100,000 people
  • West Oxfordshire: 60.6 cases per 100,000 people