Suffolk leaders advocate for vaccines against the Covid Omicron strain
07:22 on December 18, 2021
Suffolk public leaders have written an open letter to everyone in the county urging them to get a coronavirus booster amid the threat of the Omicron variant.
Matthew Hicks, head of Suffolk County Council, co-signed the letter with Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore and the five heads of district and borough councils.
They made an urgent appeal to the public to get the vaccine, but said “there are many reasons to remain positive and optimistic” about the future.
A total of 52 confirmed cases of Omicron have been identified in Suffolk so far – but the actual number is likely much higher.
The full letter is as follows:
Dear Suffolk Resident,
As we come to the end of another eventful and memorable year, we would like to thank you all for your resilience, determination and kindness to others that you have shown in 2021.
However, the UK now faces a new variant. Omicron cases continue to rise across the county and we approach the New Year with unease and uncertainty.
Once again, we need all of you to step up your efforts to reduce the number of cases in Suffolk. This means that we have to take the advice and, most importantly, get your booster shot.
Suffolk has proven time and time again that we have the determination and the courage to overcome this – and we must do it again.
At this point, scientists cannot say for sure that Omicron is less serious, but we do know that it is more transmissible. To avoid a situation where our infection rate spirals out of control, causes damage to vulnerable people and overwhelms our local hospitals, your actions and behaviors are essential.
The government has now introduced Plan B and that means we need to carefully consider how many people we choose to mingle with and decide what social contact is worth it. There are ways to protect ourselves when we get together. These include wearing a mask (unless you have an exemption), hand washing, good ventilation, and a lateral flow test before and after a social event. It’s these little things that protect us and those we love.
We also urge everyone to get boosted now. Science shows that vaccinations, especially the top-up booster, help protect us from Omicron.
For those of you who may need to book your first, second, or booster, please do so online at NHS.gov. For local information on walk-in clinics, please visit the Suffolk and North Essex COVID-19 Vaccination Service. This also includes a link to the Waveney services. Please boost yourself now.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank our colleagues in the NHS for providing the recall program in Suffolk. From 7,000 people a day, the government has asked us to vaccinate more than 18,000 each day. It is a huge undertaking.
Suffolk ranks first in the East of England for the number of people vaccinated and this is due to the excellent systems we have put in place. As we have successfully proven throughout this pandemic, such a huge demand can only be met by every agency in Suffolk working together, including the public sector, blue light services, and community and volunteer groups. We would like to thank these agencies and all the volunteers who will be necessary to make this happen.
We fully support our colleagues in the NHS with the recall program. Our work includes the redeployment of staff, the provision of premises including communal buildings and the communication of key messages and information. We also offer free trips through Suffolk, by bus or taxi, to anyone who needs to get to their vaccination appointment (for more information visit: www.suffolk.gov.uk/GetVaccinated ). This service is open to anyone in Suffolk.
We understand, especially as the holiday season approaches, that people may be worried about the new variant and what 2022 might bring. However, there are plenty of reasons to stay positive and optimistic. We have an extremely successful vaccination program in Suffolk. It has no doubt saved many lives and will continue to do so with rear-wheel drive. We also know that by working together, as we have done throughout the pandemic, we can keep our local communities safe.
Thank you for your continued support.
We hope you have a safe and happy Christmas with your friends and family.
Cllr Matthew Hicks, Chairman of the Local Outbreaks Advocacy Committee and Head of Suffolk County Council
Cllr John Ward, Head of Babergh District Council
Cllr Steve Gallant, Head of East Suffolk District Council
Cllr David Ellesmere, Head of Ipswich Borough Council
Cllr Suzie Morley, Head of Mid Suffolk District Council
Cllr John Griffiths, Head of West Suffolk District Council
Tim Passmore, Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner