'Let's do it for Lancashire's kids': County public health boss on Covid boosters, Omicron precautions - and being inspired by his own daughter

Lancashire’s public health boss says he has been inspired by his own daughter’s message to those whose working lives are dominated by ongoing efforts to tackle the pandemic.

Dr. Sakthi Karunanithi hopes that sharing her sentiment will prompt the public at large to keep doing all they can to protect themselves and others against Covid.

At the end of a lengthy day of calls last week, he was presented with a poster by the 10-year-old, which included motivational missives such as “never give up”, “don’t be afraid” and “have faith”.

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He says that the overarching message to “keep going” and “make the right choices for everyone” is something that society as a whole needs to hear – not least for the sake of youngsters like the one who delivered it.

“This time round, it feels like we need to do it for our children, because that’s where the virus is circulating so highly at the moment. They are the ones that are more vulnerable now to Covid infection – and their lives are going to be more disrupted [by it].

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“So at least for our children, we need to be doing what we all can in terms of jabs, face masks, testing and isolating – all the things that we know work. We all have a moral and special duty to protect [their] futures,” Dr. Karunanithi said.

Initially speaking before Sunday night’s government announcement that all adults would be offered a booster jab by the end of the year, Lancashire County Council’s director of public health has since told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that his daughter’s message has now taken on an added significance as the NHS faces up to the challenge of administering a million does day in the coming weeks.

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...which he hopes will give colleagues and the public a boost

He says that the poster is now hanging in his hallway and he hopes that publicising it will give some strength to colleagues in the NHS and local government who are “absolutely on their knees after two years non-stop”.

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“She saw me just [being] busy all the time, so she wrote the poster and then put it in front of my face at the end of a call. I was very moved by it and I was actually welling up.

“I think we should all take inspiration from our children, who are very thoughtful and inspiring. Children are our boost and I posted it [on social media] just to pep up the mood.

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“It just felt really appropriate to share it with colleagues to [encourage them to] believe in what we are doing and not give up – and to keep everybody in mind.”

Dr. Sakthi Karunanithi has been Lancashire County Council's director of public health throughout the pandemic
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Meanwhile, Dr. Karunanithi says that “a balance” needs to be struck between the continuing battle against Covid and other health and societal needs.

“We need to start thinking about Covid as being with us and how [to] adapt to live with it, rather than accepting the uncertainties and ups and downs. That really takes quite a bit of a change and shift in the mindset and outlook.

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“It has never been – and certainly is not the case – that it is all about Covid. Covid is almost getting in the way of important things like children’s education, mental health and jobs – all the things that really matter to keep us healthy and well.”