The first few weeks of 2021 have given all of us cause for renewed hope in the battle against coronavirus. The UK’s health regulator has now approved three vaccines for coronavirus – the Pzifer vaccine, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and the Moderna vaccine. This is enabling us to rapidly vaccinate many of the most vulnerable in our communities at a world-leading pace.
It is very welcome news that over the weekend, the Government confirmed that nearly 4 million people have had at least one dose of the vaccine. This means that the majority of those in the two highest priority groups - frontline NHS staff, those in care homes and those who are over 80 – have received their first dose of the vaccine. This week the Government has confirmed that because of the success of the vaccination programme we are now in a position to begin offering vaccinations to those over 70 and those who are extremely clinically vulnerable in the coming days.
Those who are in these groups will be contacted by the NHS or their local GP surgery to invite them for a vaccine. For those who are able to travel there, vaccinations are available at the new Birmingham vaccination hub. Locally, for Rugby residents, this can be done at Locke House, and for Bulkington residents, at Bedworth Civic Hall. Having spent some time with the volunteers at the Rugby vaccination hub at Locke House, I’ve seen for myself the great professionalism and dedication of both the NHS staff and people who have given up their time to help protect the most vulnerable. Over 3,500 Rugby residents have already had the jab there in the first few weeks of operation and it is truly a great success story.
The UK is currently delivering 140 jabs per minute, one of the highest rates in the world. The success of this programme is a credit to our NHS and to my colleague, Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi, Minister for COVID Vaccine Deployment, who has rightly put at the heart of our strategy vaccinating as many of the most vulnerable in our community as possible.
I am confident that, as long as we are able to keep up this rate of vaccination, we will be on course to protect 99% of those most at risk from coronavirus in the spring. This means that the end is in sight, and we will hopefully be able to look at easing the restrictions on our communities and businesses in March. Until then, however, it is vital that we all remain vigilant and follow the Government guidance – to stay home, protect the NHS and save lives.