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HEALTH MATTERS: Covid is less of a danger but we still need precautions

By Dr Tim Allison

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The Covid vaccination programme is under way again for this year.
The Covid vaccination programme is under way again for this year.

What a difference a day makes – as the song goes.

How much greater is the difference when it comes to a thousand days?

If we go back a thousand days, or nearly three years, we get to the start of 2021 and the height of the Covid pandemic.

There had been lockdowns, we stayed at home, shops and schools were shut, holiday travel had largely disappeared, and we were only beginning to start the vaccination programme.

Covid testing was becoming more of a routine, and we started to be concerned about getting two lines on a lateral flow test.

We realised how difficult life was for everyone then and doing whatever we could to help out was commonplace.

Now we probably feel that things are very different from how they were back then.

There are no more lockdowns, shops and schools are open, holidays are back on track, and we want things generally back to normal.

However, underneath it all, things are not really back to normal at all.

There are questions in newspapers and on social media about whether it is reasonable to go on a plane if you have Covid and uncertainty about whether or not symptoms could be Covid, given that there is no regular access to testing kits.

Covid is not having the same health effect as it was three years ago thanks to the vaccination programme and past infection, but amidst the different winter chest infections that are on the rise Covid is playing its part.

Dr Tim Allison, NHS Highland Director of Public Health. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Dr Tim Allison, NHS Highland Director of Public Health. Picture: James Mackenzie.

We may not be able to be sure if we have Covid or another virus, but we all should continue to be taking precautions to restrict the spread of infections.

This includes using and disposing of tissues, washing our hands thoroughly, staying at home when ill and not going on a plane if you know you have Covid.

Health services do come under more pressure during the winter months, both hospitals and services in the community and general practices.

More people become ill at this time of year and there is also the legacy of the pandemic on the need for health care.

The delivery of vaccination is one of the areas that is currently under pressure.

From the first time that vaccines for Covid were available, local people were keen to take up the offer of vaccination, protecting themselves and others.

People from different backgrounds helped with setting up and running the clinics.

The programme locally had its problems and difficulties but enabled many thousands to people to be protected.

The autumn and winter vaccination programme is now under way again.

It needed to be rescheduled across the country to bring forward vaccination for those at higher risk and it has also had problems and challenges.

I am sorry that some people have had difficulty with arranging convenient appointments close to home, but as with previous programmes we are working to make things better.

I hope that as many as possible will take up the offer of vaccination and keep up protection against Covid and influenza.

Dr Tim Allison is NHS Highland director of public health and policy.

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