At the time of writing, over 12 million people have now been vaccinated against Covid-19 - with the nationwide rollout well on the way to hitting the Prime Minister’s ambitious target of injecting the first four priority groups by this coming Monday.
The Beast from the East has caused some local disruption but well done to the teams from Suffolk Highways for working tirelessly to help clear the roads, prioritising vaccine centres. Whilst the bad weather led to some unavoidable closures, a special thanks go to the hardy team at Felixstowe, who shovelled away the snow to keep their vaccine programme running.
After a steady start, vaccinations are now happening at pace in Suffolk. All residents in care homes have received their first vaccination and the latest stats from the Ipswich & East Suffolk CCG show that 90% of over 80s and 75% of 75-79s have also been vaccinated, meaning we’re above the national average for both those metrics. Previously, I raised concerns on behalf of constituents when it was clear that the cohort priority was not being followed unanimously. As an MP, I think it right to let the NHS get on with the programme but I also have a duty to hold them to account, which I have done. I’m pleased that saw a rapid response.
Due to the largely rural nature of Suffolk Coastal, I’m also pressing the Vaccines Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, for more doses of AstraZeneca as unlike the Pfizer vaccine, it doesn’t have to be stored at such low temperatures and you can split the vials, meaning it is easier to take out to housebound patients. Thanks to the hard work of our nurses, doctors, surgery staff and volunteers significant progress is now being made. It has been a huge effort across the county and the country and we should be rightly proud.
Talking of big logistical efforts, late last week I was proud to host the launch of Freeport East alongside Clemence Cheng, Executive Director of Hutchison Ports. Freeport East is a collaboration between Felixstowe & Harwich, EDF and Ryse Hydrogen to create a single custom zone alongside innovative plans for green energy. Felixstowe is, of course, the UK’s largest container port and Harwich an important terminal for roll-on/roll-off non-containerised freight. The government is looking to create 10 freeports across the UK and are due to make an announcement next month. If successful, Freeport East would be a great boost for employment and prosperity on both sides of the Harwich Haven with over 13,500 jobs created.