As covid deaths in Milton Keynes pass 500 mark, health chiefs gear up to persuade younger people to get the jab

Younger people will play a crucial role in stamping out covid-19 in Milton Keynes by getting the jab, a meeting heard.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 2:54 pm
Updated Friday, 12th March 2021, 2:58 pm

As the total number of covid-linked deaths in the borough tragically passes 500 health chiefs are gearing up to try to achieve “herd immunity” which needs younger people to get jabbed.

A leaflet will soon be dropping through letterboxes across MK in a bid to tackle misinformation and hesitancy about the jab.

“To those over 18, in your 20s and 30s, if you want to protect people you love, your mum, your dad, your grandparents…. get your vaccine,” said Cllr Alice Jenkins, who was chairing Thursday’s health and adult social care scrutiny committee.

“Not only does it protect you but it protects them too.”

Dr Oliver Mytton, the city’s deputy director of public health, said there is increasing confidence that the jab stops the spread of the virus.

“What we want to achieve in the long term is have very high levels of vaccination across the entire population so we achieve herd immunity,” he said.

The meeting was told that vaccines do not protect everyone, so many others are needed to form a human shield to stop the virus from getting through.

Cllr Alice Jenkins

Dr Mytton said young people can still get ill with so-called long covid.

He said: “Taking that vaccine is really valuable in terms of protecting everyone else, so it’s really important that we work hard to encourage everyone.”

The meeting heard that health chiefs are expecting the full re-opening of schools to increase rates of the disease in the city, especially as MK’s population is younger than other places.

Until more people are protected by vaccination, they continuing to rely on social distancing, testing, ventilation, and mask wearing to push rates of the disease to rock bottom.

With the impact of full school reopening still to come, the signs are looking positive with cases halving every two weeks, now to just over 220 a week.

Earlier in the week MK Hospital’s trust board heard that fewer than 50 people remain in hospital with covid.

But the meeting heard that tragically 517 deaths have been registered in total involving covid-19 since January 1, 2020.

More than half (317) have lost their lives during the second wave after the city was badly hit by the so-called Kent variant.

Geraint Davies, director of performance and governance at Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes clinical commissioning groups, tackled one source of vaccine hesitancy head on.

“There is a key challenge around potential infertility implications of the vaccine,” he said. “That is not correct.

“I would like to say formally on record there is no indication that the vaccine causes fertility challenges, so we need to get that across to the public.”

Everybody should have had both their jabs by October, the meeting heard, but the existence of new variants may mean a booster is given.

Cllr Anne Cryer-Whitehead (Lab, Stony Stratford) said she felt “on the road to freedom” after getting her first jab.