Our coronavirus vaccination programme continues apace. But sadly, so does the spread of the virus and its impact on our hospitals.
There is no doubt that we are in the eye of the storm.
You may have read my colleague Dr Elin Roddy’s first-hand account of life on the front line. As she made clear, people should be in no doubt about the seriousness of coronavirus.
We know that some people will, sadly, die after contracting the disease. But we should also remember that many more, although they will leave hospital, will suffer the after-effects for a long time to come.
Last week we recorded our highest number of deaths in Shropshire since the start of the pandemic. Sadly, 25 people lost their lives to Covid. As I’ve said before, these are not just statistics, they are people’s loved ones who are mourned and missed.
The vaccines are, of course, good news. I would repeat my plea to please be patient. I know most of you are anxious to know when it will be your turn, but this is the biggest vaccination programme in history and it is being done by staff and volunteers who have been dealing with the pandemic for almost a year. Everyone is doing their best, so please be kind.
You may have read that mass vaccination sites have been confirmed for Shrewsbury and Ludlow, which should be open in the coming weeks, along with a third site in north Shropshire. This is on top of the GP surgeries that are already offering the jab, along with our centre at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and the one operated by the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital in Gobowen. We are also now able to vaccinate NHS staff at an internal centre at the Princess Royal Hospital.
This is a remarkable achievement given that the first vaccine was only approved for use last month.
But while the number of people being vaccinated is rising rapidly, we must still be cautious. Most of those who have had the vaccine have had their first dose but are awaiting their second, and therefore are not yet fully protected. Even with both doses, the vaccine, like all others, is not 100 per cent effective.
It is vital, whether you have had the jab or not, that we all continue to follow the guidance on staying at home as much as possible, wearing face coverings and keeping our distance from others. The vaccine will help us drive infection rates down – but only in conjunction with the lockdown measures that are already in place.