Last Saturday the time arrived for me to go to the Welcome building for my first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, to protect me against Covid-19. I must say that I was truly impressed. None of the long queues as I had seen on the television at other locations; just a slick process from being welcomed, through the checks on my name, date of birth etc., and the injection itself which was painless. From start to finish it took less than 15 minutes, I returned home for lunch and then fell asleep, but this was the only side effect and that could simply have been the result of a busy week. The thing that surprised me was the feeling of relief I felt afterwards. This was not due to a fear of the jab, but the feeling that after what has been a long and worrying year, we just might be able to start returning to a life of greater freedom. I realise of course that the vaccination is not a guarantee against infection and that in any case it will take several weeks for the antibodies to build up. I also know that more than half the population still need to have their first vaccination, but it provided a sense of hope that at last, we are coming through this.
During the pandemic there are some things such as the vaccination programme which have gone well in the UK and there are others such as the PPE fiasco which have not. Each of us will draw our own conclusions about the overall performance of the Government during this time, but one thing that nearly everyone agrees on is that we have a tremendous amount to thank our health workers for. Not just the Doctors and Nurses, but the porters, ancillary staff, and ambulance crews, all of whom put their own lives at risk in order to protect us. Along with most of the nation I applauded them every Thursday evening during the first lockdown, thankful for their commitment. I firmly believe that there should be a tangible recognition of the service that they have provided and for that reason I am appalled that they have only received a 1% pay offer. That is not a reward, it is an insult and I sincerely hope that the Government will reconsider.
Several people have contacted me to ask about the roads and pavements that are being dug up. There are two companies installing fibre to homes, which should improve the speed of broadband available. Both companies (City Fibre and Lightning Fibre) are committed to reinstating roads and paths to their former condition and ensuring that people have access to their homes whilst the work takes place. The lockdowns have demonstrated just how much we now rely on the internet, so this should provide the infrastructure required for a more reliable service.