Last weekend I visited the Roffey vaccine centre. Alongside their colleagues at Christ‘s Hospital they are helping to deliver a very high local uptake for both the vaccine and booster.
They are great teams operating long hours to get people boosted as quickly as possible. We should all be very grateful for their efforts.
We know that those with a double vaccination and booster are in a vastly better position if they come into contact with the Omicron variant of Covid. That’s why such effort is being put into this programme. We were able to continue over the last six months with far fewer restrictions than our European neighbours because of the success of our vaccination campaign: boosters will help provide ongoing protection from the most serious effects of Covid.
This is all the more important because Omicron is far more infectious.
Right now, at the current rate of transmission, thousands of Covid patients (most of whom are unvaccinated) are occupying hospital beds. The rapid spread of Omicron implies that without action hospitalisations will significantly increase, this is likely even if it is ultimately proved to be a milder strain. We need to act to protect the NHS’s ability to protect all of us.
The booster roll-out is the most important measure. Alongside this the Government is taking steps which I believe are proportionate to the issue. There is a recommendation (not a law) that where possible people should work from home. There is an increase in the number of indoor venues where masks are required (in many of which they have already been introduced), people attending a very limited number of events will be required in advance to take a lateral flow test which many of us are already doing routinely to protect others. (They won’t have to take a test if they choose instead to show that they have been vaccinated). Frontline workers in the NHS will in the future be required to have been vaccinated (which friends on the NHS frontline tell me is overwhelmingly the case already with staff keen to protect themselves and their patients).
None of these measures I believe is disproportionate, they are far more limited than many already in place in Europe.
I wish Omicron hadn’t evolved and these measures would therefore not have been required. It has and, sadly, as a result, they are. Boosters and the supporting measures will help protect the NHS and in doing so reduce the risk to us all.