It has been a difficult beginning to 2021, with high numbers of Covid cases, serious flood alerts and lots of snow.
But something that continues to be our light in the darkness is our vaccine programme. With vaccines, comes hope, as we edge closer to controlling this virus and resuming ‘normal life’.
The incredible amount of work that has been put into the three approved vaccines (with more to come) and the vaccine roll out is unprecedented. Just a few weeks ago, we saw more than 200,000 people sign up to volunteer - assisting people in getting to vaccine centres and stewarding when there. Everyone involved, and those being vaccinated are protecting themselves, their community, and the NHS during this difficult time.
At certain points over the past few weeks, 140 people per minute were receiving their jab from the NHS, with hundreds of thousands being vaccinated each day. There are now hundreds of vaccination hubs, including our own Stepping Hill Hospital. We also have a mass vaccination site at the Etihad Stadium, to complement the more local hubs in our area. With so many people being vaccinated each day, it's no surprise that we've vaccinated the highest percentage of our population in Europe.
Nationally, we have vaccinated 10 million vulnerable people. The vast majority of over 80s have received their vaccine. Local care home staff have also spoken of the emotional journey and their looking forward to being able to reunite residents with their relatives after only essential visitors being allowed in some care homes. Many staff members have also made difficult decisions to not see their own children and grandchildren to avoid catching or spreading Covid to the residents they take care of.
But staff that provide care don’t just work in care homes. Over the last month, I have been pushing for staff at our special schools to be included in the top vaccine priority groups.
We have some fantastic special schools in our area, providing education and care for children with a variety of additional needs. In many of these schools, the lines between educating and providing care become a grey area. Vaccinating these members of staff not only protects them and their families, but also ensures that the pupils they care for and educate are safe, too. As vulnerable pupils, many of them are able to continue to go to school.
The success of our vaccination programme so far would not have been possible without a huge amount of hard work from healthcare staff, scientists, volunteers, logistics staff and many, many others. A huge thank you to everyone that has worked so hard on this vaccine roll out.