As of last week the Covid-19 booster vaccine programme jabbed its 20 millionth arm, as our protection against coronavirus continues with millions more receiving doses since writing this piece.
Including first and second doses, some 100 million vaccines have been administered, in just a year since the programme began. This is a remarkable achievement and shows what can happen when we have the UK Government and the private sector, the NHS and local volunteers all working together.
Of course, this is no time to look back and feel content. Last week’s anniversary of the vaccine programme commencing was marked by an announcement that people aged 40 and over, as well as those in high-risk groups, will be able to book their booster jab three months after their second dose, no longer having to wait six months after their second dose to get the top-up.
People in their forties are now able to book their booster jab a month in advance; two months on from their second dose.
Of course, these announcements have been overshadowed by the Government confirming it will be bringing in further Covid-19 restrictions. I am writing this column ahead of the anticipated House of Commons debate and vote on these restrictions which I hope to take part in.
The impact of previously announced restrictions which continue to affect the Crawley and Gatwick aviation sector is clear and I questioned the Health & Social Care Secretary in the Commons last week about reintroducing support packages for such critical sectors of the UK economy.
I continue to encourage people to get their Covid-19 vaccines to protect themselves, their family, and help our society return to a sense of normality. I had my booster jab last week at the Apple Tree Centre in Ifield.
Vaccines save lives and are our first line of defence against not only Covid but flu as well.
People eligible for a Covid-19 booster will include: all adults aged 18 years or over, and all aged 16 and over with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe Covid-19, and adult carers.
Those eligible for a free flu vaccine include: people with long-term health conditions, all adults aged 50 years or over, health and social care workers, pregnant women, and children (up to secondary school year 11).
The NHS will be calling people forward for the Covid-19 booster dose at the appropriate time, so that those who are most vulnerable will be prioritised.
People eligible for a free flu vaccine can book an appointment through their GP surgery, local pharmacy, or maternity services if they are pregnant. To check your eligibility and to book your winter vaccines please visit: www.nhs.uk/wintervaccinations
Henry Smith MP