Will I still get 'pinged'? Do I need to self-isolate? Sunderland health chief answers Covid questions after changes in rules
With changes to the rules around self-isolation coming into effect this week, Gerry Taylor, Sunderland City Council's Executive Director of Public Health and Integrated Commissioning, answers some frequently-asked questions about what this means for the people of Sunderland.
What are the new rules around self-isolation?
The new rules mean that if it’s at least 14 days since you had your final vaccine dose or under 18 you are no longer required to self-isolate after close contact with a positive case of Covid-19.
Instead, you’ll be advised to take a PCR test as soon as possible to confirm whether you have the virus.
Even if you have been fully vaccinated you can still carry Covid and pass it on.
So if you have been in close contact with someone who has Covid it’s important to limit close contact with other people wear a face covering in enclosed spaces and limit contact with anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.
And of course, you should continue to take part in regular Lateral Flow testing twice a week.
What is meant by ‘fully vaccinated’?
It is really important that we’re all clear about the term ‘fully vaccinated’.
You are fully vaccinated once 14 days have passed since your final dose of a Covid-19 vaccine given by the NHS.
This is to allow for an antibody response to develop and you must have been fully vaccinated at the time of the contact with the positive case in order for the new rules to apply.
Will I still be contacted or ‘pinged’ if I am a close contact?
Yes. All people who are identified as a close contact of a confirmed case will still be contacted or ‘pinged’, regardless of vaccination status or age.
This is so they are aware that they have had close contact with a positive case and can be given appropriate public health advice.
If you’re fully vaccinated you’ll not be required to self-isolate but will be advised to take a PCR test.
Who will still need to self-isolate?
Self-isolation is a really important tool to help prevent the spread of Covid so it’s important that we all continue to isolate when we need to.
If you have symptoms you should isolate while you wait for the results of your PCR test and everyone who tests positive will still be legally required to self-isolate, regardless of vaccination status.
And, if you haven’t been fully vaccinated, you will still need to self-isolate if you are identified as the close contact of a positive case, unless you are under 18.
Should I get a test if I have Covid-19 symptoms but have been vaccinated?
Yes, it’s really important we all continue to do this to help stop the spread of the virus.
Even if you’re fully vaccinated you could have Covid-19 and pass it to someone who is at risk so if you have symptoms of Covid-19 stay at home and arrange to have a PCR test.
If your test is positive you must self-isolate.
Has the Test and Trace support payment changed from 16 August?
Financial support will continue to be available to people who are required to self-isolate until at least the end of September 2021.
We have information on our website about who is eligible. Test and Trace Support Payment - Sunderland City Council
How can I get vaccinated?
Vaccines are our best defence against Covid so I would encourage everyone who is eligible and hasn’t been vaccinated to do so.
If you’re over 18 you can book through your GP, online for an appointment at a local vaccination centre or pharmacy or if it’s your first dose, you can call into a drop in clinic.
Last week it was announced that all 16 and 17-year-olds will also be offered the vaccine and people in those age groups will be contacted and offered an appointment or they can walk into a mass vaccination centre or a local drop in clinic.
As always, I would encourage you to take up the offer of the vaccine when it’s your turn.
For more information on self-isolation and vaccinations see www.sunderland.gov.uk/coronavirus