Jabs campaign is proving an incredible success
Column by Caroline Johnson, MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham
I am delighted that the vaccination campaign continues to make incredible progress. Over 32 million people have now had their first jab.
We have vaccinated three in five adults across the UK and more than one in 10 adults have been fully vaccinated.
Lincolnshire has been at the forefront of these efforts from the very start and by the end of March over 400,000 people in Lincolnshire have been given their first jab, and over 70,000 within Sleaford and North Hykeham.
This incredible achievement has only been possible through the hard work and dedication of local NHS staff across the county and the army of volunteers who have come forward to help. Vaccination centres were set up from scratch across Lincolnshire, including at the Meres Leisure Centre in Grantham, where I’ve been happy to play my part as a volunteer vaccinator. The Grantham Meres Centres was one of the first vaccination centres in the country to open in December last year and has since delivered over 50,000 jabs alone!
It is clear that the vaccination programme is working - saving lives and laying the foundations for a path back to normality. Analysis by Public Health England indicates that 10,400 lives have been saved by vaccines in the first three months of the programme. This analysis takes into account the direct effects of vaccines, and there is increasing evidence that vaccines help to reduce transmission - it is therefore likely an even higher number of deaths will have been prevented.
As a result we’re now in a position to begin reducing restrictions in line with the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown. I am delighted that pubs and restaurants can now reopen, able to serve customers outdoors with no requirements for a meal to be served with alcohol or a curfew in place. The hospitality sector has been hit incredibly hard and I welcome that a number of measures have been put in place to support it including Restart Grants, business rates relief and reduced VAT rates. Pubs and restaurants form the backbone of local communities and after extensive Government support during lockdown, members of the public can now support their favourite local spots with their own custom and help them get back on their feet after what has been a very difficult few months.
In order to continue to make progress on the roadmap out of lockdown it is vital the vaccination programme continues at full swing. Over six million people have received their second dose meaning those most vulnerable to the virus now have the best possible protection, and it is vitally important everyone takes up their second doses when offered to ensure maximum protection. The vaccine is the route out of restrictions and I will continue to support efforts to ensure its smooth and efficient roll out in Lincolnshire.