I’ve worked in industry since 1984, and I’ve been immensely proud to be your Assistant General Secretary at Community since 2013. In my time working and in the trade union movement, I’ve never experienced anything quite like Coronavirus.
The disruption this pandemic has caused to our lives, both at work and beyond, has been unimaginable. Thankfully, however, it seems an end may now finally be in sight.
On 24th April. I received my first dose of the Coronavirus vaccine. Not long earlier, after hearing that they were accepting appointments for the vaccination tier I’m in, I logged onto the NHS website and booked my first and second dose appointments.
Last Saturday, I went to Forth Valley Campus, Falkirk and got my second dose. My appointment time arrived, then five minutes later it was over and I was on my way. Quick and painless.
I’m sharing this with you today as I believe it is vital for everyone in our society, including all of our members, to take up their vaccination appointment when they are able to.
There are currently three vaccines in use in the U.K, each named after the companies or institutions that developed them – Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. Additional vaccines, including one from Johnson & Johnson, are currently under review and may be approved soon.
I received the Pfizer vaccine, although they are all effective in fighting the virus and equally safe.
We know the vaccine works and is already beginning to have positive benefits. Infection and death rates have declined massively, particularly amongst the age groups who received their vaccinations first.
Visits in care homes are taking place again, outdoor hospitality has reopened, and the vaccine rollout has enabled us to have a timetable for the end of all distancing laws.
Industries will soon be able to reopen, people will be able to safely go back to work and the economy will be able to restart fully.
There are many industries, including justice and education, where social distancing simply is not possible or practical. Over the past year we’ve been fighting for those industries to have their voices heard.
We’ve been campaigning for PPE for all workers who can’t work from home, and for vaccine priority to be given to those in high-risk industries.
The vaccine offers us the best hope possible of protecting those in high-risk industries, which is why it is so vital that everyone takes up their vaccination when offered.
It is crucial to remember that getting vaccinated doesn’t just protect you, but it also protects everyone around you and everyone you come into contact with on a day-to-day basis.
Queries or concerns are completely understandable, as people often have around their health. My advice would be to speak to your GP, who will have all the information and would be happy to assuage any doubts or answer any niggling questions.
I am astounded by and indebted to the scientists involved in the development of the vaccine and the healthcare professionals and volunteers leading the rollout.
As the vaccine rollout progresses, I look forward to being able to gather with everyone at #OurCommunityUnion again in person.
I’m delighted to have received my first vaccine and hopefully my second will be only weeks away, in doing so I have played my small part in keeping my friends, family, colleagues and all those at risk across the country safe. I urge everyone to get the vaccine when they can.
For more information on vaccines, the vaccine programme and vaccine safety, see here.