Home Coronavirus: News and Advice Knowsley Outbreak Management Board – 30 September 2021

Knowsley Outbreak Management Board – 30 September 2021

by Gemma Melling

Please note that the data contained within this article is correct at the time of publication – as this is a changing picture, further updates will be provided to supersede this information as and when available.

Anybody relying on this information should check that it reflects the latest published position.

Knowsley’s latest Outbreak Management Board meeting took place on Thursday 30 September 2021.  At the meeting, the Board reviewed the latest data available and updates on the current level of COVID-19 cases in the borough.

In summary:

The level of COVID-19 cases in Knowsley was remaining steady at around 350 cases per 100,000 population.

Given the colder weather and people therefore socialising indoors more often, case levels were not expected to reduce much further.

Cases were highest amongst 10-14 year olds. Secondary school-aged children were continuing to participate in a twice weekly testing programme which was identifying more young people who had COVID-19 without symptoms.

COVID-19 admissions to local hospitals remained stable, although hospitals continued to be under significant pressure. Of those admitted to hospital during September 2021 with COVID-19, 41% of patients had not received any COVID-19 vaccination.

59% of the eligible Knowsley population had received their first dose of a vaccine, and 69.68% had received a second dose. The uptake amongst 16-17 year olds was 31%, which was significantly lower than the comparator figures across Cheshire and Merseyside (49%).

GPs are operating vaccination clinics at weekends for those aged 12-15 years who are in an “at risk” group (i.e. people with pre-existing health conditions).

The 12-15 year old vaccination programme (for young people who do not have pre-existing health conditions) will be delivered by the School Immunisation Team (delivered through Merseycare). Letters have been issued to parents and carers seeking their consent and Merseycare has also provided an advice telephone number should parents/carers wish to discuss any issues or concerns about the vaccine.

The “evergreen” offer (i.e. the continued offer for anyone who hasn’t already taken up the chance to get vaccinated) was continuing to be delivered through pharmacies, mass vaccination centres, and hospital sites – from 4 October 2021, residents will also be able to access the vaccine through their GPs.

There are now six pharmacies across Knowsley offering the vaccine and appointments can be booked through the national booking portal – nhs.uk/coronavirus-vaccine – or by ringing 119.

Booster clinics are commencing across the borough from 4 October 2021 for priority groups 1-9 – to be eligible, residents must have received their second vaccination doses more than six months ago.

A care home vaccination programme will be commencing soon, offering care home residents and staff a booster as well as their annual flu vaccine. This programme will be completed by the end of October 2021.

There are low numbers of cases and outbreaks in Knowsley schools. High standards of hygiene and ventilation continue in the borough’s schools.

The Board received an update on the findings of engagement and behavioural insight work conducted with communities across the borough around the COVID-19 vaccination. The focus of this work has been with 16-40 year olds, among whom uptake has been lower than has been the case in older age groups.  The findings outlined that:

    • People welcomed the convenience of on-site vaccination clinics at their workplaces as booking appointments had been a challenge otherwise (due to shift working, childcare responsibilities, and difficulties accessing the national booking portal).
    • Many people said that they had received the vaccine to protect themselves and their loved ones, as well as their co-workers and customers.
    • Lifestyle factors were also key in encouraging people to get vaccinated (such as being able to go on holiday without the need to quarantine).
    • The biggest barrier to getting vaccinated was a fear of needles, followed by a feeling that COVID-19 “wasn’t relevant” because people did not believe that they were at risk, and also a mistrust of authority.
    • Parents were important influencers – if parents had received the vaccine, there was a much greater possibility that the child would also engage.
    • Further engagement sessions are planned over the next two weeks to target lower uptake areas of the borough.

Given that the findings indicated the convenience of holding vaccine clinics at workplaces, the Board asked Knowsley Clinical Commissioning Group to explore the possibility of businesses on Knowsley Business Park hosting vaccination clinics.

The Board agreed that residents should continue to be advised that the vaccination and regular (twice-weekly) testing are the best defence against the virus. Good ventilation, wearing face coverings in crowded indoor spaces, regular handwashing, considering others (such as keeping your distance or wearing a face covering), and carrying tissues to catch coughs and sneezes are also recommended.

About the Outbreak Management Board

The Knowsley Outbreak Management Board is responsible for overseeing Knowsley’s Outbreak Management Plan – you can read it on Knowsley Council’s website.

The Board is chaired by the Leader of the Council, Councillor Graham Morgan, and membership includes the Council’s Adult Social Care Cabinet Member (Councillor Louise Harbour), Resources Cabinet Member (Councillor Jayne Aston), Health Cabinet Member (Councillor Christine Bannon), and Chief Executive (Mike Harden) alongside Knowsley’s Director of Public Health (Dr Sarah McNulty) and representatives from Merseyside Police (when required).