With a recent steep increase in Covid-19 infection rates, health officials are reminding people across Halton, that it is still important to work together to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our community from Covid-19 as well as other seasonal illnesses.

Rates of Covid-19 infection in Halton have now exceeded 600 per 100,000 – meaning around one in every 162 people in Halton having Covid-19. The current rate is the highest it has been in the borough since January this year.

There has been a particular rise in infections among 11-16 year olds with cases are also high among 5-10 year olds. However, infection rates are also beginning to rise among the parents of these school age children, with concerns that we may soon see more grandparents and older, more vulnerable people becoming ill.

Dr Ifeoma Onyia is Halton’s Interim Director of Public Health. Talking about the current position in the borough, she says: “While people should not be alarmed by the recent rises, it is a reminder that we are not yet out of the woods when it comes to the pandemic”.

“Thankfully, while Covid-19 is typically mild or asymptomatic in most young people, it can be very unpleasant for some, and it means more time away from the classroom.

“It is also a worry that we are now seeing cases rising among adults and it is important that we act now to stop this reaching our older and vulnerable population, particularly as we near half term, when we know lots of grandparents help out with childcare.

“Our community across Halton has been incredible at pulling together when it has been needed since the start of the pandemic.

“We now know how to fight this virus and part of us learning to live with Covid-19 means that at times like these, when we are seeing more infections, we need to step back into defence mode and do the things we know work.

“That means washing our hands often; ensuring there is good ventilation when we meet people indoors; wearing a face covering in crowded areas; and doing regular tests and isolating properly if needed.

“We also know that our very best defence is to get vaccinated and I encourage all parents or guardians of 12-15 year olds to choose to give their consent for their child to be vaccinated when it is their turn. There is lots of information available at nhs.uk to answer questions you may have, or you can email me and my team directly at public.health@halton.gov.uk.

“I also encourage everyone over-50 to get their booster jab as soon they are eligible and for all adults to get a flu vaccine this winter.

“And, to anyone over 18 who, for whatever reason, has not yet had their first vaccine, or come forward for their second, please remember it is never too late.

“Doing these things will work to bring Covid-19 cases down, help to reduce interruptions to our children’s education and protect our vulnerable residents – but it will also guard us against other winter illnesses that start to circulate this time of year.”

People aged 18 and over (or turning 18 within 3 months) can get a 1st and 2nd dose of a vaccine. You can book a vaccine online at nhs.uk or by calling 0151 511 5200.

Booster vaccine doses will be available on the NHS for people most at risk from COVID-19 who have already had 2 doses of a vaccine. The NHS will be in contact when it’s your turn to have one.

Most children and young people aged 12 to 17 are currently only being offered a 1st dose.

In Halton, vaccination of young people aged 12-15 is already underway. Parents or guardians of these young people will receive letters from their local school-aged immunisation service (SAIS) with details of when the vaccination will be offered. The SAIS already provide routine immunisation services in schools such as the seasonal flu vaccine.

As with all vaccinations, a consent form and information will be used to seek consent from parents or those with parental responsibility. Parents or guardians do not need to contact their local GP or other NHS services to make an appointment.

For more information and advice please visit www.halton.gov.uk or www.nhs.uk