HEALTH bosses are on standby to administer the Covid jab to young people after coronavirus infection rates soared among that age group, it has been revealed.

Bolton currently has the second highest infection rate in the country, standing at 133.5 new positive cases per 100,000 - with a rise in cases seen among the young.

The town also has among the highest rates of the Indian variant.

The majority of new cases are believed to be of the Indian variant.

Yesterday health chiefs in Bolton gave an update on what is being done to contain the infection, with surge testing and a drive on vaccinations in the Rumworth, Deane and Great Lever areas, which have all seen cases of the worrying Indian variant.

No specific reason was given for Bolton having high infection rates now and previously.

The infection rate amongst the 15-19 age group is 223 per 100,000 and 20-25 is 175 per 100,000, prompting calls for younger people to be vaccinated.

Dr Helen Wall, who is leading the vaccination programme in Bolton, said the town was following national guidance.

She said: “Bolton has very high rates at the minute but that’s not to say that is not going to happen in other places. We have to keep a national hold on vaccine supply etc so I think we have to be led by the national team on this and we will do that.

“We are standing up operations so that we can vaccinate more people if that is an option for us.”

Dr Helen Lowey added: “Our rates have really increased in the past week to 10 days so we are seeing high rates and also we are assuming that our new cases are of the Indian variant.”

She added: “We are in discussions over what’s right for Bolton and how can we roll out our programme faster and going down the age groups. We are in those conversations.”

She urged people to be aware of rising infection rates as restrictions ease next week and get vaccinated, if eligible, and tested.

Dr Lowey said: “From a public health perspective we like to take a cautious approach, we know people do want to meet their families, friends and socialise “I just think it is about recognising where we are currently at in Bolton and so asking people to be cautious be aware and maybe think about taking a step back if you are close to someone whether it be in a shop.

“For me it is about putting everything tgether, keeping on with the testing and tracing absolutely with vaccinatiion.”

She said:”What we have to remember is that we are currently in step two (of the roadmap) at the moment, we are putting everything in place to get our rates down.

“We have already started additional testing.

“My priority is making sure we get the rates down here in Bolton.

“We have seen our rates rise before and we have seen them come down before we are no different in respect of that in other areas especially across GM and the North West, and in Bolton we have a number of people who are unable to work from home it is a whole range of factors we know, we have high levels of deprivation, so it is combination our main focus is getting the testing out , the contact tracing and isolation support so we can reduce the rates.

“There is no one factor why our rates have increased it is a combination of factors, once it is in the community it is spread within the community.”

There is a fear that transmission of the virus to vulnerable groups could increase hospital admissions - with vaccination being key in preventing that. 

Some cases of the Indian variant in Bolton are as a result of travel.

Meteor Mayor Andy Burnham said: “We have been saying for some time there should be a provision to surge vaccine supplies into the areas where the case rates have been highest rate throughout, and where historically there are the greatest health inequalities.

“In many ways we are repeating that request but with a renewed urgency given the effect of what we are seeing in Bolton."

The key messages given were: Dr Wall: “As soon as you are eligible get the vaccine don’t wait until next week, there is no reason to wait, just get the vaccine.”

Dr Lowey :”Please have the test if you don’t have the symptoms and if you do please also have the test, and isolate immediately and please do say at home if you are positive.”

Dr Rauf Munshi from Bolton NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are heading in the right direction however we need to be mindful this is not over yet and has not gone away yet, this may be something we have to learn to live with in the foreseeable future.

“We need to make sure we maintain the practices and habits we have developed over the last 18 months and just remain optimistically cautious.”