Over the past year we have shown that vaccination is the key to beating COVID-19, and that it works. The UK was the first country in the world to administer a vaccine, we delivered the fastest roll-out in Europe, and we have begun the fastest booster campaign too, with over half a million jabs delivered yesterday alone.
These achievements, made possible by the extraordinary efforts of our NHS, including thousands of GPs and volunteer vaccinators, have literally saved countless lives and livelihoods in this country. But our fight against Covid is sadly not over.
The Omicron variant is highly infectious and over the weekend, the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers raised the COVID-19 Alert level to 4, its second highest level. I am afraid the early evidence suggests that two doses of vaccine are not enough to give high levels of protection against infection. However, the good news is that our scientists believe that with a third dose – a booster dose – we can all bring our level of protection back up. So, we must act now.
This week the Government have launched the Omicron Emergency Boost programme, a national mission unlike anything we have done before in the vaccination roll out. As part of this programme everyone eligible aged 18 and over in England will have the chance to book their booster before the New Year, as long as they had their second dose of the vaccine at least three months ago.
Within our constituency, and at the time of writing my column, there are currently two walk-in centres where you can receive your vaccine: St Mary’s Church Hall, 1 London Road, Swanley. And Sevenoaks Pharmacy, 42 Dartford Road, Sevenoaks, TN13 3TQ. Please see my website for details of opening hours https://www.lauratrott.org.uk/vaccine-update.
Additionally, the surgeries in Sevenoaks, Westerham and Otford will now extend the booster jab to all patients over 18 years old (previously they were only providing to those over 50, and the vulnerable). If you are a patient of these surgeries, please wait to hear from your surgery and do not contact them proactively. Patients at the Swanley, Hextable, Braeside Surgery, Farningham and Devon Road surgeries should still attend St Mary’s Church Hall for your vaccinations. And, I am waiting for an update for patients of West Kingsdown.
Jubilee Medical Practice in New Ash Green are carrying out boosters, but I am keeping in close contact with them, as it will be challenging to vaccinate all their patients by the deadline. If you are able to drive, I would strongly recommend booking an appointment at St Mary Church Hall, Swanley - or attending there as a walk-in - as they have a large number of available appointments.
I am working hard with our local NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to increase local capacity. And, as soon as I know more, I will update you through Facebook and my website.
My message to you all is clear: if you have not yet had a vaccine at all, then please get yourself at least some protection with a jab as quickly as possible; if you have already had your booster, encourage your friends and family to do the same. We all have a critical role to play in this national mission so get boosted now, so we can ensure we all keep our friends and loved ones safe over the festive period. If you encounter any issues do let me know. My team and I are here to help wherever possible.