Coronavirus: Hospitalisations for the over-65s at new high since last year

Covid-19: Sir Patrick Vallance warns 'virus hasn't gone away'

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New data shows hospitalisations for the over-65s are at their highest since January 2021, up from 26.3 to 28.4 per 100,000.

The last time hospitalisations were this high the UK had just entered its third national lockdown at a time when only a very small number of people had been vaccinated.

Admission rates are also high for the over-85s and over-75s too.

Admission rates for the former stand at 189.2 per 100,000 while for the latter they have risen from 77.0 to 87.3 per 100,000.

As part of the government’s Living with Covid plan it has taken the decision to treat COVID-19 like flu, something that people will inevitably get and learn to live with.

This comes as a record 4.9 million people in the UK reported having Covid last week.

Although BA.2, the current dominant variant of COVID-19, is milder than previous variants, it is still causing havoc with an NHS being expected to work through a backlog of cases and deal with a new COVID wave.

BA.2 is a sub-variant of Omicron; what separates it from the others is its increased transmissibility.

So far, the world’s best weapons against the vaccine have been social distancing measures and vaccines.

It is this latter defence the UK government is relying on to reduce the need for more restrictions.

Who can get the vaccine has been determined by age, with the oldest age groups getting the vaccine first due to their increased vulnerability to the virus.

As of this morning however, children aged five to 11 can now get the jab.

NHS England has said children in this age bracket will now be able to get their first vaccine dose.

Around five million children are eligible for the jab and most of these appointments will occur at local vaccination centres in community pharmacies.

Children will be offered two doses of the Pfizer vaccine offered two weeks apart.

The vaccines will be weaker than those given to adults, about a third of the strength.

Deputy lead for the NHS COVID-19 vaccination programme and GP, Dr Nikki Kanani said: “From today, parents of almost five million five-to-11-year-olds can book their little ones in for a vaccine, ensuring they get their first dose of protection and helping us to protect against potential future waves COVID-19.

“Vaccines remain the best defence we have against the virus.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid added: “From Monday, the NHS will be rolling out the non-urgent offer for Covid vaccines.

“Parents, if they want, can take up the offer for their children to increase protection against Covid as we learn to live with this virus.”

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