Over 96,000 people in East Devon have now received a first vaccine jab. That’s two-thirds of everyone here. This is fantastic news as the vaccine is our surest route out of this pandemic.
The government created a 517 million-dose portfolio of vaccines early on by ordering from a range of pharma companies. That’s allowed us to stay firmly on track to vaccinate all adults by the end of July. I’m always humbled by every personal account I hear of going for the jab at Westpoint, Greendales, Exmouth Tennis Centre or a local GP surgery. The NHS and army of volunteers have done an incredible job keeping us safe and have met that logistical task head on with exceptional dedication.
Everyone aged 34 and over are being urged to book their Covid jab. Yesterday I got a text from the NHS saying it’s my turn to roll up my sleeve. It’s a really good feeling!
I want to turn to an issue on people’s minds currently – the variant of concern that first originated in India. This variant is more transmissible. Though, so far, we have no evidence to suggest our vaccines will be less effective in protecting people against severe illness and hospitalisation.
But it’s only sensible to take additional measures to mitigate the risk this variant poses. Following the advice of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, the NHS will accelerate the provision of second doses to the over 50s and the clinically vulnerable right across the country, now just eight weeks after the first.
As the PM said, everyone needs to redouble efforts to get tested in affected areas and – above all – get a jab when eligible.
Another big issue on people’s minds is what happens from 21st June. That’s the day when the government has pencilled in to remove all legal lockdown restrictions.
I feel that we need to stick to that date. Sadly, some areas may need to be held back because of the variant, but we shouldn’t hold back the entire country. It’s a big step, but we’ve come so far and cases remain very low in East Devon and much of the South West.
That said, ministers are understandably keeping a close eye on the all of the data across our county and the country.
We need to make a decision to unlock the country and get back on our feet as soon as data allows. Britain is one of the most vaccinated countries in the world, our vaccination programme continues to be a success. Please get a jab if you are offered one so we can unlock our country for good.
This column first appeared in the Exmouth Journal on Wednesday 26th May 2021 and in the Sidmouth Herald and Midweek Herald later in the week.