Have your jab when it's offered - I certainly will!
Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy writes for the Voice
WITH the vaccination programme running at pace and the prime minister having revealed his ‘roadmap’ out of restrictions we can now, finally, see a light at the end of the tunnel after a very difficult year.
It is brilliant that so many people have now received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and we have seen encouraging evidence about its effectiveness. Data from Scotland shows recipients of just the first dose were 85% or 94% less likely to be hospitalised with Covid, depending on the jab used. There is also positive evidence that vaccines reduce transmission, with Public Health England saying that one dose reduces the risk of catching Covid by over 70%.
Whilst overall take-up has been very good, even exceeding initial expectations, there are concerns about the rate of take up amongst certain communities, including people from a black or other ethnic minority background. Tragically, these communities have already been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. Community leaders have been working hard to tackle disinformation and encourage everyone to take the opportunity to protect themselves by having the jab.
These vaccines have met strict standards of safety. Reports of serious side effects, such as allergic reactions, have been very rare whilst no long-term complications have been reported. Getting a vaccination is the best thing you can do to protect yourself and others, and I would urge everyone to have their jab when offered – I certainly will be!
On 22ndFebruary the Prime Minister outlined his road map for relaxing Covid restrictions, setting a timeline for most measures to be removed by the summer.
In a stark contrast to his blind optimism at the start of the pandemic, the Prime Minister is now being more cautious. I hope this means the Government has finally learned from its experience of failing to keep the virus under control. As the Prime Minister says, this relaxation of restrictions must be irreversible.
There will be four steps in total, with the first starting on March 8 with the re-opening of schools, and at least five weeks between each stage to allow for enough time to collect data on how it is affecting the Covid case rate.
Labour is calling for improvements to isolation support (a SAGE report found only 3/10 people who should be self-isolating are actually doing so), the early vaccination of teachers and other key workers, and continued economic support for businesses and individuals. This must include support for those who have slipped through the cracks and have received very little help to date.
For now, the lockdown is still in force. Not everyone vulnerable has the protection from a vaccine yet. We must all continue to follow the guidance, wear masks and minimise our social contact to save lives.