This week marks the passing of one year since the Prime Minister addressed the nation announcing a national lockdown. Coronavirus was, and to a certain extent remains, the biggest threat our country has faced since World War II. The Prime Minister described the huge national effort that would be required to halt the spread of the virus, as no health service in the world would be able to cope if we took no action.
The Prime Minister faced a choice of enacting draconian measures to restrict peoples’ lives, temporarily close many businesses and inhibit economic growth, or do nothing. There were no easy options and no Prime Minister of a liberal democracy wants to enact such measures. But he did – and a year later continues to do so. However, in just one year we have found better treatments, carried out millions of tests, turbo-charged our domestic PPE production, and discovered not just one but several effective vaccines.
Covid-19 vaccines are vital for our recovery. They are the route out of the dark days we have endured for the last year, on to a brighter, more optimistic future.
If we are to walk down the path the Prime Minister has set with his national roadmap, then it is beholden upon us all that when we get the call to have our vaccine jab, we must take it up. Next week I shall be going for mine, and I will happily take any of the vaccines on offer, as they are all safe and effective against the original coronavirus strain and the subsequent variants we currently have in the UK.
I do understand the genuine concerns and worries that a minority have with taking the vaccine, but scientific study and medical research is showing us that the vaccines are working in the real world and are now providing nearly 30 million people across the UK with some form of immunity against the virus.
In my regular discussions with our local NHS, there is a worry that some cohorts in Sussex who have been offered the vaccine jabs are not taking them up, especially in Hastings. My message is simple and clear, the vaccines work, they are safe and when you get the call, please take up the offer of the jab. Whilst it may be a difficult experience for some of us (I am no fan of needles!), we have to keep up the good work and think not just about ourselves, but other people and the safety of our families and local communities. We need as many people as possible to get vaccinated to maximise our community protection and immunity.
The vaccines are proving to reduce hospitalisations and cut deaths, and there is now evidence that they can help to block transmission of the virus as well. Taken together, the vaccines are going to enable us to return to a more normal way of life and our local economy to bounce back.
Last year, the Prime Minister said that the people of this country would rise to the challenge and join together to halt the spread of this virus to protect our NHS and to save many thousands of lives. We have done that together and we are stronger for it, but we cannot take risks now – just before the finishing line. We will succeed by achieving our freedom steadily, with caution, rather than acting carelessly and too quickly – ‘The race is not always to the swift’.