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We're pushing on with the vaccine rollout, says MP Jo Churchill

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Looking back at the past month I am filled with gratitude at the outstanding work of our local NHS, General Practices and CCG in rolling out the vaccine across Suffolk. It is true, we did suffer from a steady start locally, but as I write this, we have now vaccinated all care homes locally, 90% of over 80s, 75% of over 75s and thousands of health and social care workers.

This is no small achievement. By moving quickly to vaccinate some of the most vulnerable in society, we can help stop the spread of coronavirus and save lives.

Undoubtedly, the past year has been challenging and my heart goes out to those who have lost a loved one to this terrible pandemic. This virus threatens us all; it is so dangerous because, as we now know only too well, it can spread rapidly through asymptomatic hosts. These individuals act as a carrier of the virus and can spread the disease unknowingly. This is why testing and vaccination is so important.Testing allows us to pick up trends such as how and where the virus is spreading. Therefore, the good news of a testing centre at West Suffolk College is another piece of the jigsaw in how we will control this virus, and get back to more normal way of life.

Another UK resident is vaccinated in the mass programme
Another UK resident is vaccinated in the mass programme

The vaccines are key to unlocking our nation from the restrictions we currently find ourselves under. I am delighted that as I write this, we are rapidly approaching 10 million people nationally who have received the vaccine.

This is just the beginning of the biggest immunisation programme in our nation’s history. In Suffolk we are vaccinating in GP surgeries, hospitals and mass vaccination centres such as community centres, schools and Sports Centres. We are doing all we can to jab as many arms as quickly as possible,working our way through the priority groups.

Amid the challenges, I have had two brighter calls this month, one with the Rickshaw team who have purchased a second, larger model. They totally self-fund and do some amazing work delivering medicines and groceries to people who are unable to get out. Currently they are also, brilliantly doing a door to door service for those who need assistance getting to their vaccine appointment. This is a totally Covid safe and gentle way to get to your centre, so do ring 01284 339449. The purchase of the new rickshaw was made possible through charitable donations and I know the team would be grateful for any additional support to continue with their fantastic work.

The second call was to the wonderful Lesley, Moreton Hall’s parish nurse. Having started her training at the Royal Free Hospital in 1961 she has continuously cared for people. 60 years is a remarkable achievement. She explained she cannot do as much face to face as she would normally do but she is reassuring people about the safety of the vaccine and helping with the challenges of isolation and mental anxiety during this unusual time. She is truly one of the unsung heroines of the town. I thanked Lesley for her dedication and hard work, I know there are so many other nurses across the constituency who are working tirelessly throughout this pandemic and I’m sure all our thanks go out to them.

Whilst the vaccine rollout brings hope, we do however still find ourselves facing challenges, protecting both people’s lives and their livelihoods. But with the numbers and transmission rate beginning to head in the right direction, I am hopeful we can begin to look forward to better days to come. I would once again like to thank constituents for continuing to follow the guidance. Whilst we are now closer to beating this virus than we have ever been, we must still be careful, we must all remember hands, face, space.

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk