I am writing this column on Tuesday, the day that MPs are voting on Plan B, mulling over the events of the past year, and thinking that here we are again, facing a question mark over the impact of a Covid-19 variant. None of us will forget the restrictions last year when Christmas was effectively cancelled after the new, more virulent Covid strain – the Delta variant – spread throughout London and the Southeast.
As a family, we were mourning the recent death of my brother-in-law, who had just died of pancreatic cancer and were due to have his wife and children for Christmas; a chance to start the healing process as a family together. But restrictions meant that we could not give this vital support to the very people who needed it most in their time of immense grief. We followed the rules, like the vast majority of people did. Over the next few weeks, we must all follow the minimal restrictions now in place to help slow down the spread of transmission to give a bit more time the get boosters into millions more people. Nobody wants another lock down and our exit strategy is vaccines. Two doses of vaccine are not enough to give the level of protection we all need against this heavily mutated variant, but a third dose – a booster dose – gives 75% protection and will bring our level of protection back up. I know a number of constituents are very angry about bringing back restrictions but how could we justify doing nothing now if the virus proves to increase hospitalisations and deaths in vaccinated people. Also, our NHS, GPs, Pharmacists and other primary care services are exhausted, on their knees after months of relentless hard work, trying their best to protect us all. They are doing an amazing job and we owe it to them to get a booster and be as careful and sensible as we can be. Is it too much to ask to minimise our social contact where we can, wear a mask on public transport and crowded indoor places and show evidence of a negative lateral flow test if you are not double vaccinated and want to go night clubbing or attend large indoor events? These measures will also enable more of us to spend time with our families and loved ones this Christmas.
Christmas is important for so many reasons. For Christians it is a major religious event, a holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and for non-Christians, a widely celebrated secular holiday. No matter the reason why you celebrate this time of year, it is certainly a time for tradition – traditions which help shape us, our families and our communities. Families establish their own traditions, bonding us closer together and giving a sense of belonging. I certainly have that feeling of joy, of contentment in my heart when I see my family, including my extended family, enjoy each other’s company, playing games, eating and drinking together. Creating memories which we treasure forever. These are the things to focus on this Christmas.
We all need to work together on a local and a national mission this Christmas to encourage our families and friends to protect themselves and our communities by having a vaccine if they have not yet done so - and Get Boosted Now, and finally, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
If you would like to volunteer to support the vaccination programme, details can be found here –
If you are interested in reading my statement on Plan B and why I supported these measures, you can find it –