The Government published on Monday its Covid-19 Vaccines Delivery Plan which sets out how we are going to deliver the biggest vaccination programme in British history and protect those who need it most as quickly as possible.
This comprehensive plan is the culmination of months of preparation and hard work by the Vaccines Taskforce, the NHS, Public Health England, our research institutions and Armed Forces, and local and regional government at every level.
I am in regular contact with the Health Secretary, the Chief Executive of the Great Western Hospital and the Director of Public Health at Swindon Borough Council about the vaccine rollout here in Swindon and will continue to keep a close eye on its progress.
It is encouraging to see that our vaccination programme is off to a strong start with more than 2.3 million people here in the UK having already been vaccinated – this is more than the rest of Europe put together.
Last week we began vaccinating those in care homes with the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine and thanks to its ability to be stored at room temperature, we can accelerate the pace of vaccinations in care homes across the country.
We have already vaccinated a quarter of care home residents and it is our ambition that every elderly care home resident by the end of the month will have been given an offer of a vaccine.
A number of residents in recent days have contacted me about whether pharmacists will be involved in the vaccine rollout programme. I support and value the role that our local pharmacies play here in Swindon and I am pleased that pharmacists across the country are ready and prepared to help administer vaccines.
As more supply become available, community pharmacists able to administer large numbers of vaccines will be part of the phased vaccination programme, especially in getting to the harder to reach areas. Right now, our aim must be to get as many jabs in arms as possible, which is done most quickly by larger hubs using all supplies as quickly as possible.
The Government will be publishing weekly data showing the number of Covid-19 vaccinations provided across the UK. This can be found via: https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk
We have made considerable progress in the last few weeks, but there is still a long way to go. As the end is in sight, it is more important than ever that all of us here in Swindon and around the country do the right thing and follow the rules to ensure we protect ourselves as well as each other. This week, more local GP surgery patients will be getting access to the vaccine, and Swindon continues to lead the way.
Education and schools have been an issue of continuing concern, and I am teaming up with North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson to call for local residents and businesses to come forward and help provide even more school children with laptops for home schooling.
The Government have been doing an excellent job in getting hundreds of thousands of laptops to those in need through the ‘Get Help With Technology Scheme’ and we would like to further support their efforts on a local level here in Swindon.
I have spoken with a number of local headteachers and hugely appreciate the hard work that they and school staff are doing to keep schools open for children of key workers and vulnerable children too.
Residents and local businesses in Swindon who would like to donate laptops or volunteer their IT skills to help fix laptops are asked to get in touch with either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.