I’ve had my first jab! The Oxford Astra Zeneca. It was announced on Tuesday that people in my age group were being “called up”, as most media outlets put it, for their vaccinations. “Called up” sounded rather like being called for active service in wartime, and there was certainly a sense of doing your duty for society, as well as protecting yourself. It’s a big relief that we don’t seem to be having too many issues with vaccine hesitancy here: people rushed to message friends and relatives in the relevant age group and to post on social media, in case anyone hadn’t heard, and so many people tried to book appointments as soon as possible that the NHS England website briefly crashed. 94% of over 50s in our local authority area, which has been very badly hit by this horrible pandemic have now received their first jab, the national rate’s around 95%, and, hopefully, we’re on target to offer everyone over 18 their first jab by the end of July, and hopefully take-up in all age groups will be as high as it’s been in the priority groups.
I feel like I should be thanking the scientists, the Vaccine Task Force, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and the National Health Service for leading us out of the wilderness, or leading us out of the darkness and into the light or something, like a verse from the Bible. Or quoting some appropriate song – maybe “A Red Letter Day” by the Pet Shop Boys or “Greatest Day” by Take That? I half-felt as if I should be wearing my best frock for the occasion! I settled for ordinary clothes 🙂 , but a favourite pair of earrings and a Manchester United “Maskchester” mask! And the sun shone. And thank you to Rafa and Dan for their excellent performances in Monte Carlo this afternoon, keeping me sane (well, as near to sane as I ever get) as I waited for the clock to tick round towards the time of my appointment. I was anticipating having to wait in a long queue, but I didn’t: it was all over and done with very quickly.
There’ve been a lot of reports of people getting quite emotional, especially clinically vulnerable people whose lives have been very restricted since this nightmare started. It’s been such a relief every time a family member or friend has received their first jab, and in some cases now their second jab, and today it was my turn. I know that Boris and the medics keep reminding us that the vaccines aren’t 100% effective, and I’m sure we’re all well aware of the risk of variants, but there’s no denying how much infection rates, hospitalisations and deaths have fallen since the vaccination rollout started, and don’t tell me that that’s due mainly to lockdown because we were locked down in November and it didn’t have this sort of effect.
Back in January, we were seeing some local authorities recording infection rates of over 1,500 per 100,000, and at one point we recorded over 1,600 Covid-related deaths in a day. Now, nowhere’s got a rate of over 100 per 100,000, and the average number of Covid-related deaths per day, whilst every death is still very, very sad, is below 50. Brazil’s recording over 3,000 deaths per day, India over 1,000, Poland recorded over 800 deaths in a day earlier this week, Italy’s seeing around 500 per day, France will probably pass the 100,000 death toll today and Germany’s close to running short of intensive care beds, so we certainly can’t take anything for granted, and can only hope that the third wave eases in other countries soon and that we manage to escape it.
It’s going to take a long time before the entire population of the world can be offered a vaccination, and it doesn’t look as if the pandemic’s going to end any other way – well, not without taking the sort of toll which the Spanish flu took. We’ll get there, hopefully. We’re very lucky to be in a country which has been able to provide one of the fastest vaccination rollouts in the world, and thanks again to everyone involved in that. Hopefully, this is our way out of this, an end to this fear that’s been hanging over us all since last March, and a route back to some sort of normality. If anyone’s read this, thank you, and stay safe xxx.