Published: 16:12, 15 June 2021
| Updated: 19:05, 15 June 2021
The director of public heath in Medway is urging teenagers and young people to get their Covid jabs now.
James Williams is urging those over 18 and in their early 20s to book a jab as soon as possible to help everyone in the county to stay safe.
Mr Williams spoke out earlier today to KMTV during a press conference at the Detling Showground in Maidstone, after it was announced by Boris Johnson yesterday that 'freedom day' would be delayed for a month.
Mr Williams said: "The national booking system is opening up today for people aged 23 to 24 and the older people who are still waiting for their vaccine.
"But then you've got localised programmes which may be run by your local general practice, so that's fine if people are able to access the vaccination at that local level.
"The main thing for me is I do not mind how people get it done, please just get it done."
The health director says the amount of people in or accessing treatment in hospitals across the county is low, and particularly so in North Kent and Medway.
He added: "We've got a very low rate of people attending hospital or being admitted for that and we need to keep it there and the reason for that is clearly the fantastic vaccination programme that has been done for all of our adults who are older during our first cohort and of course those who are working in health and social care and through to 50 year-olds.
"We've done a cracking job at getting those people vaccinated and that's why we are not seeing hospitalisations as we did."
He also said people of all adult ages should still get tested regularly.
He added: ""We've got significant capacity in relation to our local services and we've got 12 fixed sites across all of our districts and boroughs in Kent.
"Of course Medway is a smaller area but a larger land mass lets say in terms of population, and that's well covered again with ranges of fixed sites and access to pharmacies for your collect symptom free testing and clearly we've got regional test sites and local test sites.
"But I would add if you do have symptoms, I will remind people what they will be, a loss of taste or smell, an unexpected cough that's turned up and you don't know where it has come from, or a simple fever, then please stay at home, dial 119 and get yourself a PCR test booked up.
"We've got our surveillance systems, our local outbreak management plan and that's how we continually keep out population safe on a daily basis.
He also says there is a significant amount people in Kent can do to keep Covid levels at a minimum.
Mr Williams added: "What we saw last year, we were the first people to identify that particular strain.
"We were doing a significant amount of work to reduce the infection rates across both Kent and Medway and it took, clearly a government scientist and further investigation to help them out to establish this was a new variant (Alpha).
"All I can say it's not about me or any one individual officer, this is about our population and everyone in Kent and Medway needs to reflect on what we do on a daily basis.
"They have done so fantastic so far and just maintain the key things, abide by the guidance, outside is better than in, and we know the virus transmits itself more readily inside and the Delta strain is even more transmittable than the Alpha strain and that causes some challenges, so just bare that in mind.
"Use social distancing, hand hygiene and above all when you are called for the vaccine, and we know from today 23 and 24 can access vaccines, we've already been doing pop-up sites and we've been delivering vaccinations for our young cohorts, please get your first vaccine and make sure you have your second dose.
"The evidence is very clear, 96% protection against hospitalisation for the Oxford vaccine, 92% for the A/Z vaccine (AstraZeneca), that's our direction of travel, we've just got to make sure everyone, when they get that call if they are 18 plus, get it done, we are doing a really good job across Kent and Medway, so please get yourself vaccinated."
The health director also says covid rates in Kent are much lower than the national average across England and he wants to see the county maintain that level, but understands why central government made the decision to delay the easing of all restrictions.
He added: "So what we've got to think about is the reason why the decision was made.
"Clearly it was in line with the four tests that the government had set out and unfortunately one of the key areas of that was whether we had any other variant of concern and that was going to unfortunately cause us to think again and we've seen that with this new Delta variant, it's more transmittable.
"We've seen what's happened in the north west, a 64% increase in one week in relation to hospitalisations in that particular area and clearly whilst we have got lower rates much lower than the England average across the county of Kent and Medway at this moment in time, what we clearly need to do is to ensure we don't get into that position.
"So at this moment in time it is a precautionary principle and central government have taken that decision and what we must do at local level is keep our population safe.
"We have done a fantastic job across Kent and Medway with our vaccination programme and I would like to applaud our NHS colleagues for the work that they have done, particularly those in primary care."
And he says the county has also seen a significant up take in home testing and the county sites are dishing out on average 17,000 to 18,000 individual tests as week and many people are also self-testing at home.