Derbyshire health chiefs warn that vaccines alone will not mean an end to restrictions

Derbyshire residents are being urged to prepare themselves for many more months of social distancing and face coverings to quash the Covid-19 pandemic.

Monday, 18th January 2021, 9:50 am

Local authority chiefs for the county have warned that while the Covid vaccines are great news, they are not the sole key to ending the pandemic and current lockdown.

They also stressed that receiving the vaccine, whether you have received one dose or two, does not remove the risk of the virus and certainly does not mean residents should stop following prevention guidance.

Maintaining social distancing, regular hand sanitising and wearing face coverings, would remain necessary for a good while yet, they confirmed.

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Health chiefs say mask wearing and social distancing are likely to be with us for several months yet

Hardyal Dhindsa, Derbyshire’s police and crime commissioner, said that the news of the vaccines, while a huge positive, could reduce people’s adherence to Covid-19 guidance and authorities needed to do more to ensure this does not happen.

He said: “This is going to have to be repeated quite often to get people to protect themselves and protect others.

Dr Robyn Dewis, public health director at the city council, said: “Vaccination is part of the answer of what we need to do.

“As we move towards the spring we get an advantage in terms of the seasonality of the virus.

"As we move through that time we will have more people vaccinated.

“What we don’t understand fully at the moment is what the vaccination of an individual does in regards to spread of the virus.

“We don’t know yet whether an individual can, although not becoming ill from the virus because they have been vaccinated, still catch it and spread it on to others.

“We have to remember, even with really good uptake of the vaccine, we still get outbreaks of the disease.

“We have to remember that the key ways of preventing the spread of the virus remain important and those things are going to be with us for a considerable time.”

Gavin Boyle, chief executive of the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust, commented: “This is probably going to be a longer haul than we think, even if you have both of the doses (of the vaccine) and you have some immunity, no vaccine is 100 per cent effective and that doesn’t mean you don’t have it (the virus), albeit with diminished symptoms, you still might be spreading it.

“Personal protective equipment (PPE) and social distancing and all those things will be with us for some time to come.

The number of hospital inpatients in beds with Covid lags two to three weeks behind spikes in community infections and the impact on mental health is said to have a much longer delay.

Ifti Majid, chief executive of Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation trust, which specialises in mental health support, said: “Mental health of population lags even further behind hospital admissions.

“Some of the very worrying statistics coming out of the Office for National Statistics about the wellbeing of the population and the sense of hope, the sense of happiness, which, despite the vaccine is still deteriorating and we know that that is likely to convert into more serious mental health problems.

“Getting through to a position of reduced community transmission isn’t the battle, that isn’t the end-point, I don’t want us to lose sight of that.”