February 2021: News from the Mayor
This time last year, we were starting to see the first cases in England of a virus that would transform how we live, work, and connect with one another. As the threat that Covid-19 posed to human life became clear, our communities mobilised to protect those most at risk and help people through the restrictions and lockdowns that were needed to get the virus under control. Alongside this, scientists and clinicians – including many at our city’s universities – got to work to try and understand the virus better, and ultimately work out how to stop it.
Hope for the success of those efforts has sustained many of us over the last twelve months. And though we are once again experiencing a national lockdown to try and dampen down the spread of the virus, that hope is being realised through the approval and distribution of three different vaccines that can protect those who are most vulnerable to Covid-19 and grant them protection from this disease.
As with so many aspects of Bristol’s response to coronavirus, I am humbled by the sheer scale of logistical effort and community mobilisation to roll out the vaccine across our city. From our hospitals and GP surgeries, contacting local residents who are at the top of the priority groups, to the large vaccination centre at Ashton Gate – one of seven which opened across the country in January.
As I write, over 3.3 million people in England have received the first dose of a vaccine, including almost a quarter of a million in our region. I pay tribute to the NHS staff, volunteers and city partners who have helped so many Bristolians get access to this vaccine, giving vital protection to some of those who are most vulnerable and exposed to Covid-19.
The vaccine is being rolled out in stages, with those over 80 and front-line health and care staff among the first to receive the vaccine. While I understand that people will be keen to get themselves and their loved ones protected, the NHS have asked us all to be patient as it will still take some time before everyone gets an appointment. Please let the NHS concentrate on the huge task at hand, and don’t contact them to find out when you will be getting a vaccination. Be assured that you will be contacted when it is your turn.
Sadly, we have received reports of scams in circulation. Bogus text messages are in circulation that claim to be from the NHS, telling people they are eligible for the vaccine and asking people to provide payment details to prove their eligibility. The NHS will never ask anyone for their bank details. Please be alert to scams like this, and speak to your family and friends if you’ve received anything you’re not sure about.
In the meantime, it is vital that we all stick to the rules. By staying at home as asked, washing our hands, wearing face coverings and keeping distance from one another, we can save lives, protect the NHS, and ensure many more people are able to get the vaccine so that life can begin to return to normal.