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. But our fight against Covid is sadly not over.
The Omicron variant is highly infectious, and the UK’s four Chief Medical Officers have now 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 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, 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, as well as the GP surgeries who are providing the booster: https://www.lauratrott.org.uk/vaccine-update.
The staff and volunteers at Sevenoaks Pharmacy have been amazing, and are looking at extending hours. However, with the rollout expansion they are facing significant pressure. So, if you live in and around Sevenoaks, can I please urge you (if you can drive, or able to take the train) to book an appointment in Swanley through the national booking system https://www.nhs.uk/.../coro.../book-coronavirus-vaccination/. St Mary’s Church Hall have plenty of appointments and also accept walk-ins. Last Sunday they vaccinated almost 1,200 people – and now have up to 15 vaccination stations operating - with 10 more to come. By travelling to Swanley (if you can) you help those unable to travel there, therefore allowing them to be seen more easily in Sevenoaks.
I am also 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.
Despite the challenges we face, there are many positive aspects to reflect on as we approach the festive season: the tremendous volunteering effort; the magnificent work of staff in our NHS and care sector who continue to do an incredible job keeping us and our loved ones safe; and the tireless efforts of all other essential workers who will all also be working over the holiday period, including local teachers, and teaching staff, and members of our Armed Forces.
So, let us also look forward with hope and ambition to the New Year. I will continue to do my utmost to ensure the voice of Sevenoaks is heard in Parliament, and to represent our communities at the highest level with energy, persistence, and determination.
Thank you for all your ongoing support and I wish you a wonderful, safe, and healthy Christmas and 2022.
MP for Sevenoaks and Swanley
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