Another week, another vaccination milestone. By the time you read this, over three quarters of the total adult population in England will have received their first vaccination.
That’s because the NHS vaccination programme, the biggest in NHS history and the fastest in Europe, has vaccinated more than half of those in their thirties in a little over two weeks. This remarkable success is no accident, but the result of months of careful planning and the sheer hard work and dedication – nowhere more so than at Cheltenham East Fire Station.
They are leading us in the race against the virus. And although the NHS is working hard to ensure that all those over 50 receive their second dose by 21 June, that won’t be ‘job done’. No vaccine is 100% effective, and younger people can still transmit the virus to people who could fall seriously ill and put pressure on Cheltenham General.
What’s more, transmission also gives the virus opportunities to mutate. And whilst the current vaccines work well against the so-called Indian variant, we mustn’t give this virus an inch. It is essential we contain it, and drive down the risk of dangerous and evasive variants emerging.
That’s why it was concerning to receive initial feedback from Cheltenham East Fire Station that the uptake of the vaccine in the 30-35 age group is lower than expected, and that thousands of vaccine invitations have yet to be answered.
It may be that is the Bank Holiday effect, but I will be watching the data closely this week. To put ourselves in the best possible position to achieve our full freedom on 21 June, every single day counts.
There’s a great prize to be won. As I know from volunteering on Saturday, for those involved in marshalling parents and children around Pittville Pump Room in a COVID-secure way for the Cheltenham Festival of Performing Arts, the day we can ditch the protocols can’t come soon enough!