Health Matters – DEC 2020

Five Issues in this month’s Podcast
• Covid-19 Numbers
• Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment
• Tier 3 – Covid-19 Vaccine – How It Works
• NHS First
• The Nose & Snot

1. Covid Numbers

So what’s really happening to the Covid numbers in St Albans? Did you know there’s a really useful report that’s u[dated daily on the Herts County Council web site? You can find it at .

  • In St Albans
    • we reached our second peak at 167 cases per 100,000 on NOV 13
    • we dropped to 100 on NOV 19; but
    • they’re currently rising again to 150
  • • In Hertfordshire
    • The second peak was also on NOV 13 at 173 cases per 100,000
    • But now we have a third peak at 224;
  • • The Tier 3 Districts
    • Broxbourne – 540 cases
    • Watford – 308
    • Hertsmere – 294
    • Three Rivers – 239

It shows that in Hertfordshire we’re now entering a third wave that’s even higher in terms of number of cases – although not in St Albans!

Tier 3 – virtually no mixing apart from bubbles and outdoor spaces e.g. parks (group of 6); shops, gyms, hairdressers remain open; but bars, pubs, cafes restaurants closed apart from takeaways; no sports fans; indoor entertainment closed (e.g. bowling alleys, cinemas}; no travel out of tier 3 area.

2. Covid Vaccine – Deployment

On Wednesday (9 December), the first patient in Hertfordshire had the COVID-19 vaccine at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage. Remember it’s local residents who are over 79 and care home workers first.

Vaccinations locally started today (DEC 15) at Batchwood Hall. All of the St Albans Practices are going to run the program together. And remember, you’ll be contacted with a date and time when you’ve been scheduled in – there’s no point chasing your Practice as it’s centrally co-ordinated. The vaccine is safe and effective for the vast majority of people – it has been tested on thousands of people and assessed by experts. You can find out more about the vaccine and how it works by reading the information from Public Health England which is available here

Getting the vaccine to all those in the priority groups will take some time and the virus will continue to present a risk for some time. We can all play our part to assist the vaccination programme by:

  • waiting to be contacted by the NHS – you will be invited to an appointment when it is your turn.
  • attending both of your booked appointments
  • continuing to follow all the guidance to control the spread of the virus and save lives

And what about the new variant in the South East – it’s certainly contributing to the growth in numbers! Viruses always mutate but there’s an implication that it could be more contagious but less serious than standard Covid-19.

3. Covid Vaccines – How They Work

How they work! Since they were first invented vaccines have always worked on the same principle – they contain a small microbe of the disease to stimulate the blood cells into creating antibodies that will protect us. These microbes can be either live or dead!

But the Covid vaccines are different – they create a template of the virus DNA and stimulate the blood cells to generate the antigens and antibodies to provide protection form the virus. So as the virus mutates they simply change the template. And that’s why a new word has entered our vocabulary – antigens – it’s antigens that stimulate the nodes on cells to create the antibodies!

Now when we talked just now, we said that older vaccines worked on the principle of injecting a microbe of the virus – live or dead. In the new vaccines the Astra Zeneca vaccine has dead microbes whilst the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have no virus at all (which is why they need to be stored at much lower temperatures.

Let’s talk about some other interesting facts

  • The Astra Zeneca half dose – it was discovered by accident that giving a half dose on the first jab increased the effectiveness of the vaccine from 60% to 90%!
  • Because it doesn’t contain those microbes it is equally effective for most of those whose immunity is compromised,
  • Anaphalaxis has been shown to be an issue as have people with certain blood conditions

4. NHS First

If you feel unwell don’t go to A&E – you could be sent home! You should contact 111 first before leaving home. If you’re seriously ill or badly injured call 999 otherwise ring 111 or go online to before leaving home. From December 1st those arriving without a booked appointment at an emergency department, minor injury unit (if it reopens!), urgent care or urgent treatment centre, will be assessed by a senior nurse to see if they need immediate emergency treatment; if not they will be asked to contact NHS 111 to be triaged.

NHS 111 can give you a timed appointment at A&E or UTC if it’s urgent!

5. Snot!

The Maltings Surgery ran its first Health Webinar last week on Ear Nose & Throat. For example, if you’d like to know all about the Nose, Snot, Sinusitis, Hay Fever etc. just go to this link You’re welcome to watch the whole thing but if you just want the nose go to 14:30 into the session!

For example, if Snot (inflammation of the nose) is the issue (Rhinitis and Sinusitis) there are three things you can do:

  • Avoidance
  • Saline Washes
  • Steroid Sprays.

And of loss smell is the issue check out this web site

You’re welcome to join the next webinar on JAN 12 on Arthritis at 7:00 pm; it’s FREE! To reserve a place go to

Alan Bellinger Written by:

Alan is a Trustee of Healthwatch Hertfordshire and very well engaged with all things related to Health & Social Care within the Community. After retirement from a successful career in the private sector (working in both training and Information Technology), Alan wanted to get involved in supporting local health issues and has an excellent understanding of what it takes to ensure a great patient experience, Alan has lived in St Albans for well over 65 years; he is a widower with two children and he especially enjoys the company of his five grandchildren – four of whom live in the local area.