Health Matters – March 2021

Four Issues in this month’s Podcast
• Is AZ Vaccine Safe?
• Covid-19 Numbers
• Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment
• St Albans City Hospital

1. Is the Astra Zeneca Vaccine Safe? – Let’s look at the evidence
• There have been over 11m doses in the UK and 6M doses in Europe
• Across the whole of Europe there have been just 37 blood clot incidents reported through the vaccination monitoring system – mostly from a single batch
• In the UK we typically experience 3,000 blood clot cases per month
• We’ve been in lockdown in the last 3 months and that means we’ve been more sedentary than we would normally be – and that’s clot inducing!
• Clots are more likely among the older population
• The WHO, the EMA, and the MRHA all report they fully support the AZ Vaccine.

So do go ahead and get your jab. As with all vaccines you may find there are minor side effects such as headache, sore arm, malaise, etc., but they only last 48 hours or so. The symptoms of a blood clot are
• throbbing or cramping pain, swelling, redness and warmth in a leg or arm
• sudden breathlessness, sharp chest pain (may be worse when you breathe in) and a cough or coughing up blood
If you experience any of these symptoms, whether you’ve had a Covid vaccine or not

2. Covid Numbers – You can find the details at

The numbers are coming down – but everyone’s watching if they come back up again following the schools opening last Monday
In St Albans
* We reached our third peak at 740 cases per 100,000 on JAN 2nd
* Last month they were 120!
*This month they’re down to 21
* The hardest hit area is Cottonmill at 94.
We continue to be one of the lowest Districts in Hertfordshire;

3. Covid Vaccine – Deployment – The Vaccination Centre at Batchwood Hall is well into cohorts 6 and 7; in the national programme they’re pushing down to cohort 9; the cohorts are
* 6 – 16-64 underlying health conditions
* 7 – Over 60s
* 8 – Over 55s
* 9 – Over 50s
But there’s more!
• Deliveries have been weak but they’re now improving
• Batchwood is well into the second doses now; there’s a two week lull coming up on second
doses due to Christmas/New Year, and then 2nd doses will be high
• Vaccination take-up over 90% across all cohorts
• There’s a new Vaccination Centre that opened yesterday at the Alban Arena.
And the Rapid Testing Centre at Westminster Lodge is fully operational

4. St Albans Hospital – this long running saga is still ongoing! The plans are still to beef up Watford considerably, to have elective (planned) treatment at St Albans and to concentrate urgent care and diagnostics at Hemel Hempstead. The original financial envelope was £350m but that is now closer to £450m. According to WHHT, that is still not enough to cover a new hospital build; the campaign for a new hospital lost a judicial review in January. The current plan is on the Hospital Improvement Program (HIP-1).

Services at St Albans – planned care – cancer is the big one and we’ll have a new state of the art cancer centre. Planned care versus emergency/ acute care. Services at St Albans
• Base for Surgical Outpatient services
• Enhanced state of the art Cancer Services
• Endoscopy Unit – plan is to double the number of theatres but –
huge developments with the PillCam”.
• Orthopaepics are the main aspect of planned care!
• Full Diagnostics including MRI and CT
• Uncertain future for the Minor Injuries Unit!
The Outline Business Case is due to be completed by the Autumn .

Alan Bellinger
March 16th 2021

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.

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