This week, the news surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clots may be concerning to residents. However, it is important to remember that all vaccines and medicines have side effects. The chances of someone developing a blood clot having had the AstraZeneca jab is nominal: four in one million.
Our medicines regulatory body and the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisations are right that the benefits of getting the jab far outweigh the risks for the vast majority of adults. Indeed, new research from Imperial College London shows the vaccine rollout is working and has led to the national number of infections dropping by 60 per cent since February.
In light of the new evidence and as a strictly precautionary measure, the Government will follow the updated advice that it is preferable for people under the age of 30 with no underlying health conditions to be offered an vaccine alternative to AstraZeneca where possible once they are eligible.
Across Sussex we have hit the incredible milestone of 1 million vaccinations given since the programme began on 8 December. This is a phenomenal achievement by our local NHS teams and their volunteers. If you are aged 50 or over, are clinically extremely vulnerable or have an underlying health condition, are an unpaid carer or a health and social care worker, and are yet to have your vaccine, please come forward. Our local vaccination centres have appointments free and you can secure one through the national booking service or by calling 119. If you had your first jab at a GP-led vaccination hub, they will be contacting you for your second jab when it is due, please wait to be contacted by your surgery.
Other good news is that the country is on track to meet the Government’s four tests and come out of lockdown as planned but we must continue in our collective efforts to follow guidance and get vaccinated to continue saving lives and to allow our economy to boom once more. Thank you to everyone who has stuck to the rules so far. In Rother, our local Covid rate is down to 8 cases reported in the last 7 days – let’s keep it that way.
From Monday (12 April) much of our wonderful local economy will be able to reopen. I am sure many of you, like me, are looking forward to meeting friends and supporting our hospitality industry who will be able to serve us outdoors. Our local pubs and restaurants have sacrificed a great deal by remaining closed throughout the lockdown to keep us all safe, and I hope residents will make a conscious effort to support them as they re-open. These businesses are raring to go and have established comprehensive systems to protect us from COVID-19 while we enjoy their service.
Tourism is the backbone of our area’s economy and from Monday, self-contained accommodation such as campsites and holiday lets, where indoor facilities are not shared with other households, can also reopen. I am sure they are gearing up for a busy summer as people choose to take holidays in our beautiful part of East Sussex.
In preparation for our tourism economy’s reopening, Pashley Manor Gardens, Great Dixter House and Gardens, the De La Warr Pavilion and events company 18 Hours have been awarded a total of £745,185 from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund. This funding will also support jobs in the sector, with broader impacts across supply chain organisations for freelancers who will benefit from new work being created and new activity as cultural organisations reopen.
Our non-essential shops and personal care businesses are also preparing to welcome customers back from Monday, when our high streets will re-open to offer residents and visitors our local produce and fantastic clothing, antiques, gifts and music shops.
From today (9 April), we will all be able to access free, twice-weekly rapid COVID-19 testing to ensure that as our economy reopens, those infected with COVID without symptoms can be detected quickly and isolate immediately. These tests will be available through the online home ordering service at nhs.uk/get-tested.
We have much to look forward to in the coming weeks and month, but this is reliant on us keeping a shared end objective in mind – beating COVID-19. Together we can, and will, recover from the pandemic, but we all have a role to play from getting the vaccine when it is our time to do so, to making use of the twice-weekly rapid testing, wearing face coverings where mandated and supporting our local economy as it reopens.