We started 2021 with a sense of optimism as Britain became the first country in the world to roll out a Covid vaccine. As the year went on, the success of the vaccination programme meant restrictions could be lifted. However, the new Omicron variant has halted our return to normality. It may be less harmful, but it spreads far more quickly meaning that if large numbers get coronavirus at the same time, the numbers going into hospital will cause real problems for the NHS. The advice from scientists was clear and I believe I was right to support the UK Government in bringing in some temporary measures (England only) to slow the spread. I appreciate this has been deeply unpopular and I acknowledge the overwhelming majority of people who have emailed want all restrictions lifted immediately. I can assure everyone that I do not want them in place for a day longer than necessary.
There is one thing we can all do to ensure restrictions do not remain in place for long and that is to get the booster jab. Last weekend, my own turn came at the Monnow Vale Health and Social Care Centre in Monmouth. The NHS staff and volunteers were absolutely fantastic. Despite being busy, we were all dealt with quickly and efficiently and a few hours after getting jabbed I was able to go swimming. My message for 2022 is really simple. The vaccines and booster have saved countless lives and drastically reduced the numbers of people who need hospital treatment for Covid. Fewer people in hospital with Covid means more time to spend treating people with other health problems. Getting vaccinated doesn’t just make sense for your own health, it supports the NHS and the wider community. We began 2021 under severe restrictions with the hope that vaccination would work. We can begin 2022 with fewer restrictions and the knowledge that vaccination will bring a speedy return to normality.
Merry Christmas to all.
*Published in the Monmouthshire Beacon on 22 December 2021 and the Abergavenny Chronicle on 23 December 2021*