Concern people are letting their guards down after getting Covid-19 jabs
- Credit: Archant
People who have had one or both of their Covid-19 vaccinations have been urged not to be lulled into a false sense of security, amid concerns some might be letting down their guard too soon.
Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk's director of public health, was responding to concerns from Norfolk county councillors that some people who had received jabs had eased up on safety measures.
The issue was raised by Conservative councillor Joe Mooney and Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group.
Dr Smith said: "The strong message for anybody who has been vaccinated is to continue following the government rules and guidance, to ensure they do not put themselves at risk while they are developing immunity and while levels are very high in the general community.
"Even if you've been vaccinated, please maintain wearing a face mask, social distancing and washing your hands."
Mr Morphew said: "I have had several anecdotal reports of older relatives of people, who have had the jabs, saying 'oh goody now I can do such and such' and they don't seem to have got the message that it's not a magic bullet which instantly works up the immunity or that you can just get back to normal straight after.
"I'm absolutely positive that these are not people doing it deliberately - they just haven't heard the messaging."
Dr Smith added there was good news, with case numbers in Norfolk falling after a rise over Christmas and early January.
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She said: "I am pleased to say we are seeing the impact of lockdown and we are very clearly now seeing reductions in the number of cases and the number of people in hospital.
"Our overall rate in Norfolk is now just over 400 cases per 100,000 and that is about in line - a little bit lower than - the East of England average.
"We are clearly seeing the effects of lockdown being effective.
"As numbers come down, that is welcome, but we expect it to be slow, particularly the significant impact that we've seen on hospitals and health care services, where things are stabilising from the data perspective, but still some way to go before numbers come down."
Dr Smith said early information was that "significant" vaccinations were being done, but demand outstripped supply.
She said: "Supply is, as predicted, the rate limiting step at this stage.
"My understanding is the key issue is manufacture. It's clearly a new vaccine with unprecedented demand, which will be putting extreme pressure on the process of production."
Conservative councillor Alison Thomas questioned why people like her, self isolating at home, could not give up their vaccination, when their turn comes, so teachers could be vaccinated over half-term.
She said: "I am likely to be vaccinated sooner perhaps, than some people who are of a younger age who are working on the frontline within a school environment.
"I'm at home keeping myself safe because I'm following the government guidance.
"So, I kind of almost feel there should be an opportunity for those of us who feel we could wait a bit longer, regardless of our age, and, effectively, give our vaccinations to somebody who is going out every day and putting themselves at risk."
Dr Smith said the NHS was responsible for the vaccination roll-out and the government would be identifying the next priority groups after the initial groups receive theirs.
Labour councillor Emma Corlett asked about the high rates in Norfolk's care homes and whether there was any evidence the personal protective equipment was no longer as effective as it was in the first wave.
Dr Smith said "comprehensive and robust" work had been done with care homes, but there are live outbreaks in 165 homes.
She said: "In terms of the numbers we are seeing in Norfolk, I believe we are at that point of peak.
"We've seen waves move across the country and it's particularly badly affecting Norfolk at the moment, in contrast to some other areas.
"If I look at the totality, I am reassured that we are in no worse a position here in Norfolk than other areas, it's just that we are hitting our wave just at this moment."
Dr Smith said the question about PPE was a really important one, but she did not have an answer at the moment.
She said the question of whether PPE advice needed to change the council would look to national experts to advise.