Local health bosses have praised a “phenomenal achievement” after a third of Lincolnshire’s eligible population were vaccinated against coronavirus.
Lincolnshire County Council’s director of public health Derek Ward said the latest good news regarding coronavirus included around 55,000 rapid PCR tests carried out a week, as well as a further 16,000 asymptomatic tests completed so far.
The county’s infection rate also continues to fall, with Lincolnshire currently hovering around 120 per 100,000 population — one of the lowest in the whole of the Midlands, compared to the England average of 158.
Mr Ward said “broadly speaking” around 200,000 people had been vaccinated, compared to 630,000 of the population over 60.
“It’s really positive news, getting through a third of the eligible people in the couple of months since we’ve been vaccinating, considering we were starting from scratch, is a phenomenal achievement,” he said.
The government confirmed on Monday that those over the age of 65 and the clinically vulnerable were now being offered the coronavirus vaccine.
Professor Ward said the challenge now was to vaccinate the same number of people in the new priority groups alongside beginning to offer the second doses for people in the first group.
“It’s another big challenge for the system, but we’re up to it and you can see that in the numbers,” he added.
He did warn the county was “not going to see zero infection rates” anytime soon, and current concerns included workplace outbreaks. However, he added: “We’ve got a really good system in place, so we will respond.”
He said the figures were going in the right direction for lockdown to end by May, but the rate of decrease is “slowing”.
“So we’ve got to be really careful as we open up businesses that we don’t see a big explosion in cases in workplaces,” he said.
“The next step is to open schools at the right time, but it’s important when we do to have couple of weeks before we do anything else, so we can be clear whether that is driving infections.
“If it’s not, then we move on to the next part. If there’s a sudden spike in cases […] we can go backwards on that particular sector.”
He added: “We can keep it a good news story by staying at home during lockdown, and when you do go out, stick by the hands, face, space rules to make sure we can get back to normal as soon as possible.”