I am aware of the growing concern in Suffolk about the supply of the vaccine. Please be assured that I am in close contact with Suffolk’s health leaders and Government Ministers who are all working tirelessly to see the swift roll-out of the vaccination programme as soon as practicably possible. Although I believe there is more to be done in improving the efficiency of the programme both locally and nationally, I am pleased with the national progress of this enormous effort to date and I shall continue to make representations accordingly to ensure that Suffolk residents receive their vaccinations in a timely manner.
In the first instance, the Suffolk and North East Essex COVID Vaccination Service has pulled together helpful information into a one-stop-hub and further information and advice is available here.
In order to prevent GP surgeries and vaccination hubs becoming overwhelmed, I would echo the advice to stay at home and wait to be called forward to receive your vaccine – you will be contacted when your priority group is ready to start receiving the vaccine. Please continue to stay at home, only leave home to receive your vaccine, or for other legally permitted reasons.
The JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation) decides upon the order of priority for those receiving the vaccine and as is the case across the country, residents here in Suffolk are being called forward in order of priority to receive their vaccine. Having spoken with Suffolk’s health chiefs on Friday, I am confident that good progress is being made with the programme and know that many frontline workers and care home residents, alongside those over 80 have already received their first dose. However I will continue to lobby Ministers to expedite availability and rollout of the vaccine here in Suffolk and to make sure that residents here are able to receive their vaccines quickly and in line with other parts of the country.
As I am sure you are aware, supply of the vaccine supply is a key issue and NHS England is trying to ensure that every area gets its fair share of the supplies. The initial vaccine was made by Pfizer and it has stringent and complex arrangements for storage and delivery. With this in mind, and especially during the early stages of this vaccination programme, given the rural nature of a county such as Suffolk, there will be some communities who may have to travel a little further afield or perhaps wait a little longer until a more local option becomes available.
We are all keen for these vaccinations to happen as quickly as possible, but the logistics of this programme are complex and vast. The government have set a clear target that by the 15th February, all individuals in the top 4 priority groups will be offered a first vaccine dose. This includes:
- all residents in a care home for older adults and their carers;
- all those 80 years of age and over and frontline health and social care workers;
- all those 75 years of age and over, and;
- all those 70 years of age and over and clinically extremely vulnerable individual