Health chiefs consider using TikTok in drive to get more young people vaccinated in South Tyneside
Health chiefs have urged South Tyneside residents to take up the offer of a Covid-19 vaccine to protect others and reduce pressures on health services – and are considering using platforms such as TikTok to reach out to younger people.
The Governing Body of NHS South Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) were given an update on Covid-19 and the borough’s vaccination programme this week.
According to vaccination programme figures presented to the body, more than 95% of over 65s have had both doses in South Tyneside.
However challenges remain around uptake in younger groups – with around 60% in the 18-29 age group having received their first dose.
Health leaders are exploring different methods to increase uptake within younger age groups, from use of TikTok and other social media platforms to “trying to get the vaccine out to where those young people are".
Dr Matthew Walmsley, Chair of NHS South Tyneside CCG, added that those eligible for the jab should take up the offer.
“I guess the main message is that the hospitalisation and intensive care, nationally it’s tending to be people who haven’t been vaccinated that are getting more seriously ill,” he said.
“So the message to anybody out there who hasn’t had their vaccine is please in the next week or two we will be making it as easy as we possibly can for everybody in South Tyneside to get vaccinated.
“So if you haven’t had the vaccine, now is the time over the next couple of weeks to get in there and get it done.”
Although the seven-day rate of Covid cases per 100,000 population has decreased from historically high rates recorded earlier in July, a range of pressures still remain on local NHS services.
This includes staff members being forced to self-isolate after contracting coronavirus or being identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive, and increasing numbers of non-Covid patients presenting at A&E.
Matt Brown, executive director of Operations at South Tyneside CCG, gave a verbal report to Governing Body members at a meeting on Thursday, July 29.
“South Tyneside obviously had, a number of weeks ago, the highest Covid rate per 100,000 in the country, he said.
“We were talking about a seven-day infection rate of about 1,300-1,400 per 100,000 which is markedly higher than we experienced in January and in the previous waves.
“That hasn’t necessarily translated into the same level of hospitalisations and deaths thankfully that we saw in previous waves – which is hopefully testament to the vaccination programme.
“And those rates have now reduced substantially, so the most recent figures would be that our seven-day Covid rate is about 500 per 100,000.
“Although that has come down markedly from being 1,300 it’s actually still a very high level."
“Whilst we’re not experiencing the same Covid pressures on our services what we’re seeing is that means a lot of staff around the system are either testing positive and therefore needing to isolate or in close contact with somebody who needs to isolate.
“And rightly so, because we want to make sure we restrict the spread but it puts a lot of pressure on our services.
“So if you look at primary care, social care, hospital services and community services and indeed many of the other bits of infrastructure around community in general, we’re facing some quite significant pressures.”
The CCG boss added: “Particularly if I look at hospital services although the Covid levels are not as high as they were, so currently we have got around 25 inpatients in South Tyneside Hospital and around three or four in intensive care, that’s markedly lower than in previous waves.
“But the level of staff who have been isolating and therefore the ability to flex the workforce to manage those pressures is substantial.
“And we’ve seen a great level of non-Covid demand particularly in A and E […] so when you put together the staff isolation, some Covid patients and a significant number of non-Covid patients it does add up to a significant degree of pressure around the system.”