Constituency matters… a weekly column by the Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe, Damian Collins 3 March 2021.
NHS data published on 26th February showed that over one third of residents in the Folkestone and Hythe district had received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the immense effort to protect people from the coronavirus, and in particular those who have been working at our local centres in Lydd, New Romney, Hythe and Folkestone. Nationally we have administered over 20 million vaccines, reaching more than 30% of the population. This compares to 20% of Americans who have been vaccinated, and an average of 7% in the member states of the European Union.
The government has confirmed that we will move at pace to vaccinate the rest of the population, looking to double the rates over the next month, working towards a target of delivering five million jabs a week.
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This could create the opportunity for people in their 40s to receive the vaccine in April. This is a huge logistical operation, with the greatest challenge being keeping up with demand, thanks to the fantastic efficiency of the vaccination centres. There will be occasions when there are delays getting the doses out to the locations that will administer them, meaning that some may have to pause their operations for a few days whilst they await new supplies. This does not mean that appointments for vaccinations will be cancelled, as people are booked-in on days when it is known for certain that there are adequate supplies of vaccine.
If a centre closes its doors, it will re-open when it has more of the vaccine to administer. Overall, we remain on track to meet the government’s target of offering at least the first doses of the vaccine to all adults by the end of July, making us most probably the first large to medium sized nation in the world to have achieved this.
This week the Chancellor of the Exchequer will deliver his annual budget statement, after a year like no other in peacetime.
I will discuss the details of his proposals in my next column, but the challenge he faces is clear.
We need to continue to support the many individuals and businesses who will not be able to fully return to work until after all the covid-19 social restrictions are lifted, which is expected to be from 21st June.
There needs to be special recognition as well of the needs of the travel and hospitality sectors, which are so important to our local economy. Even when businesses are allowed to re-open, it may take time for things to get back to as they were before.
The government will need to establish a credible plan to bring borrowing back under control, but in the first instance our priorities should be to return growth to the economy, as the necessary first step in restoring the national finances post-covid.