Is the Covid-19 vaccine helping infection rates among over 60s?

An advert thanking the NHS in a bus shelter in Tacket Street. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Covid-19 case rates among over 60s in Suffolk are falling - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The vaccine rollout coupled with lockdown measures is helping Covid-19 cases fall among the over-60s population in Suffolk, latest data has indicated.

Public Health Suffolk director Stuart Keeble said that while it was too early to tell whether the vaccines were helping reduce transmission, it was clear the lockdown and vaccine were positively impacting on case rates, hospital admissions and deaths among that age group.

Data presented to the Suffolk Health and Wellbeing Board gathering of health chiefs on Thursday morning revealed that case rates in the county overall were at around 250 per week currently compared to the 2,200 per week at the peak in early January.

For the over 60s age group, case numbers have fallen by a third at March 5 compared to the week before.

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Stuart Keeble from Public Health Suffolk - Credit: Suffolk County Council

Case rates among over 60s were at nearly 600 per 100,000 people in early January compared to less than 50 per 100,000 now. 

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Mr Keeble said: "The rapid fall in the rate of Covid-19 cases in the over 60s population points to the current lockdown measures, alongside the vaccination roll out having a positive effect. We are also seeing both locally and nationally, falls in the number of hospital admissions and deaths for these age groups.

“There is not yet enough evidence to confirm whether the vaccines reduce transmission of Covid-19 and this is why we all need to make sure we continue to follow the rules around keeping a 2m distance from people we don’t live with, wearing a face covering when at the supermarket or making other essential journeys, and washing our hands regularly.”

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According to the Public Health team, most of the infections are in the working age population, and lockdown measures are behind the falling rates in that cohort.

But Mr Keeble said: "Where we can talk about the impact of the vaccine most importantly is among our over 60s age group.

"We have seen particularly large falls in the number of cases in that group among the number of Covid-related admissions and number of people in ITU [intensive care units] with Covid, and the number of outbreaks in care homes are also falling by about two thirds.

"That is very much being driven by the incredible work of our health and voluntary colleagues in rolling out the vaccination programme. Very much among those most vulnerable who have had the vaccines earliest, we are seeing the impact on those different areas."

However, the public are being urged to continue following lockdown rules because each small step towards re-opening increases the chances of the virus transmission. The government announced five week gaps between each phase of easing restrictions so that data could indicate whether it was safe to proceed with the roadmap.

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