Lincolnshire has led the fight against coronavirus
Column by Dr Caroline Johnson, MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham
We have begun the New Year by making incredible progress in the fightback against coronavirus through the rapid expansion of the vaccination programme.There are now a total of 2,700 vaccination centres across the country, operated by over 80,000 health professionals.Over 4 million people have now been vaccinated, including over half of all 80 year olds.
This represents an incredible achievement and I would like to thank all those who have made this possible, including over 200,000 members of the public who have volunteered to help with the roll out.
Last year there were some who criticised our decision for not joining the EU vaccination scheme.It is now clear that the flexibility this provided allowed us to react quickly to the latest developments and as a result we were the first country to approve both the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the AstraZeneca vaccine.As a result by the start of January we had vaccinated more people than the whole of Europe combined.
I am exceptionally proud of the fact that Lincolnshire has been at the forefront of this programme.We were amongst the first to start vaccinating on the 8th December; amongst the first to start vaccinating through the GP led primary care network model; and amongst the first to start offering the new AstraZeneca vaccination.Every day more and more of our most vulnerable population are being vaccinated, and I welcome the opening of a further five vaccination sites in the county last week, including the Lincolnshire Showground.In addition mobile teams of GPs are now going into care homes and vaccinating residents and staff, including at Holdingham Grange Care Home in Sleaford, where a team of five from the Sleaford Medical Group recently visited and were able to administer over 100 doses in just a few hours.
I have seen this progress locally first hand on a visit to North Hykeham vaccination centre.It was running smoothly and safely, with social distancing and one-way systems in place, and the elderly residents I spoke to were delighted to be receiving the vaccine and gave very positive feedback about their experience.Having completed my COVID-vaccine training I have now also had the privilege of contributing to the programme, vaccinating a number of our elderly population personally.
We are now vaccinating at a rate of 140 people a minute, and are on track to deliver at least two million vaccinations in England per week by the end of January.Through this rapid expansion we will be able to vaccinate those in the top four priority groups (those over 70, frontline health and care workers and the clinically extremely vulnerable) by the middle of February.These top four groups account for 88% of deaths from COVID.Prioritising who gets the vaccine will save thousands of lives and is the fastest route to lifting restrictions.The vaccination programme is our road map back to a normal way of living and I will continue to support its rollout to help us deliver a brighter future.