Constituency matters… a weekly column by the Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe, Damian Collins 14 January 2021.

Our NHS is leading the world in the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine. We were the first country to use the Pfizer vaccine, and we now have regulatory approval for the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, and the Moderna vaccine. We have vaccinated more people against coronavirus as a proportion of our population than any other country but that still means people want to know when they will get theirs.

The advice remains the same, that you should wait to be contacted by the NHS and be told that your turn has come to receive the vaccine. Locally people have been vaccinated at the William Harvey hospital, particularly older more vulnerable residents, when attending the hospital for other appointments. COVID vaccines are also being administered from Oaklands surgery in Hythe. NHS England has given regulatory approval for the vaccine to be administered in Folkestone from a special facility at the Civic Centre, and this is now due to start next week.

NHS England will this week be asked to give approval for vaccinations to be carried out on Romney Marsh at Lydd Airport. Here the airport owners have agreed to provide a shuttle service to take people without their own transport from the bus stop closest to the airport entrance on Romney Road to the airport terminal building. They’ll also be working with local volunteer groups to help provide other forms of transport for people that don’t have access to a car.

Again, subject to regulatory approval and the delivery date for the supply of the vaccine, we expect vaccinations to start at Lydd during the week commencing 18th January. In addition to the operation of these vaccine centres, our local NHS is also preparing to administer the Oxford vaccine, which is easier to store and transport, in community locations including in care homes. We remain on track to meet the government stated objective to ensure that by the middle of February, all vulnerable people, and people aged over the age of 70 will have received their vaccine.

There are also new covid testing facilities available for local residents. People who have no symptoms of coronavirus but want to check whether they may be carrying the virus asymptomatically, can be tested in Folkestone at the library at Grace Hill, and now also at Hawkinge Community Centre. People who have COVID symptoms can still make a booking for a COVID test at the walk-in centre at the Stadium in Aldridge Road in Folkestone. You can find more information about this online at the County Council website kent.gov.uk/coronavirus

Overall the rate of infection for the coronavirus remains high, particularly in London and South East England. In Folkestone and Hythe, the rate of infection is no longer rising as fast as it was, but we are yet to see a sustained fall back to the level we were at before the tier 4 restrictions were introduced. It is likely that until we can be confident that all of those people most at risk to the coronavirus have received the vaccine, that we will have to continue to observe social distancing rules. At least though, we can say that day is drawing closer.

By Ed

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