Covid-19: People have given up trying to slow spread

The plans to vaccinate children are welcome but it would have been better if that decision had been taken during the summer so we could have been ready to vaccinate children before the schools went back or just at the start of term, writes Dr Tom Black.

Instead, we have seen a jump in cases and a lot of pressure on teachers, parents and children over the first few weeks of term either trying to book tests or having to isolate at home. Clarity on the situation is progress.

We are also now looking at delivering a programme of booster vaccines.

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GPs are currently involved in planning how these can be delivered as there needs to be a gap of six months from the second dose patients have already received.

To help reduce the pressure on GP support staff, can I ask people not to call their surgery to ask when they will be getting their booster. Rest assured your GP will contact you about it.

Our case numbers here are remaining steady with only very minor drops.

Our health service, both in hospitals and in general practice, are still under pressure with most hospitals over capacity and A&E departments under pressure every day.

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I fear many people have just given up in terms of trying to slow or control the spread of Covid.

Vaccination is now one of the key ways we can do that. If we do not get our case numbers down, then the pressure on hospitals will increase and we are back in the cycle of other medical procedures being cancelled.

○ Dr Tom Black is a general practitioner based in Derry. He is also chairperson of the British Medical Association (NI).