Ipswich MP: 'We need to live with Covid as we've learnt to live with flu'

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt receives his second Covid vaccine

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt receives his second Covid vaccine - Credit: Office of Tom Hunt MP

I was very pleased recently to get my second Covid jab. This time it was at Aqua Pharmacy, in Duke Street, after receiving my first jab at Gainsborough Sports Centre.

Like with Gainsborough Sports Centre, I was very impressed by the service offered.

I posted the photo of me receiving the jab on my social media platforms and I’m pretty sure that anyone who has seen the photo won’t need me to tell them that I’m not very good with needles.

Having said this, the whole experience was made as painless and as pleasant as possible.

Overall, Aqua Pharmacy has carried out over 35,000 vaccinations since they started.

When I was helping Aqua to get started as a vaccination hub early this year, I had no idea they would be capable of carrying out so many vaccinations and making such a major contribution to the town’s vaccination efforts.

Bearing in mind their size, this has been a remarkable and I was very pleased when Aqua Pharmacy were nominated by a number of my constituents for a Suffolk Hero award to coincide with Suffolk Day only a few weeks ago.

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I’m pleased to see that Covid case numbers are falling, although they remain at quite high levels.

When the prime minister took the decision to progress with removing the remaining restrictions on July 19, cases were rising.

Many - including the leader of the opposition Sir Keir Starmer, claimed there was almost an inevitability about the case number continuing to increase to well over 100,000 per day.

As it stands, this hasn’t happened. In fact, the reverse has happened - case numbers have been on a downward trajectory, despite the removal of restrictions on July 19.

Tom Hunt

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said he was impressed with Aqua Pharmacy over it vaccine roll-out - Credit: House of Commons

However, as we’ve seen over the past 18 months or so, when it comes to case numbers things can change pretty quickly - so I won’t be drawing too many concrete conclusions with regard to this precise metric at this point in time.

If it is the case that this third wave of Covid cases has been tamed, then for the first time it won’t have been the sledgehammer of a national lockdown with all its associated costs that would have caused it. We would have the vaccines to thank for it.

The last time we had case numbers like we’ve seen over the past month or so was at the start of this year, when we had many hundreds - sometimes 1,000-plus people a day - losing their lives as a result of Covid-19. Our hospitals were under unprecedented strain.

Mercifully, as a result of the vaccines, this hasn’t been the case this time. The situation has changed quite dramatically.

As a country, we have vaccinated a higher proportion of the population than almost any other - meaning that we were able to hit the July 19 milestone, despite Covid case numbers being reasonably high.

The reality is that Covid case numbers have come to matter far less than before because of the vaccines. The link between Covid case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths has appears to have been severely weakened.

I supported the decision the prime minister made to progress with hitting the July 19 milestone.

As a country we’ve spent over half a trillion pounds tackling the effects of the pandemic over the past 18 months or so. Our mental health has been severely impacted, the education of our young people hugely disrupted and many of the freedoms we once took for granted have been badly compromised.

We simply cannot continue to live in the way we’ve been living for the past 18 months or so. The great thing about the vaccine is it gives us the opportunity to get back to normal.

My view is that this must be “normal normal” and not the kind of “new normal” I’ve heard talked about by some. We need to live with the virus and begin to treat it much the same way as we’ve learnt to live with the flu.

The only reason why we are where we are is because of the safe and effective vaccines that so many of us have had the benefit of receiving.

Unless someone has a particular medical reason for not having the vaccine, there is no logical reason for not having it. I could not support compulsory vaccination and it is not on the cards. People of course have the freedom to decide not to have the vaccine. But I and others are also free to disagree profoundly with their decision.

Many of those who are anti-vaccine are the same people who were staunchly anti-lockdown. What many of them don’t seem to realise is that if the majority of their fellow countrymen and women had taken the same decision that they’ve taken to refuse the vaccine, then the chances are that we’d currently be in another national lockdown or at the very least a long way away from enjoying the freedoms that we’re currently enjoying.

The majority of those who are currently in hospital being treated for Covid are those who have turned down the vaccine. Many currently on the NHS waiting list waiting for much needed surgery could have their appointments further delayed as a direct result of the unnecessary pressure that many people who have refused the vaccine are putting on the NHS.

Yes, it is their decision to not have the vaccine - but these people need to realise that their decision is likely to have implications for others in more ways than one.

Having the vaccine protects you, it reduces your chances of passing the virus on to others and it also as a result of this gives our NHS the best chance possible to get back on its feet and tackle a daunting waiting list after the traumatic 18 months its had.

I for one would really struggle to support any further restrictions on the lives of my constituents. I believe the autumn will provide challenges but I’m confident we can avoid any further lockdowns or significant restrictions being introduced.

However, there is a risk that the decision made by a not insignificant minority to refuse the vaccine for no good reason and as a result potentially place unnecessary pressure on the NHS that increases the likelihood of some restrictions being brought back in the autumn. Something none of us want to see.

The vaccine is safe and effective. If you haven’t yet had it, please think again - the vaccine will protect you and others and is also our path back to living the lives we all wish to live again.

Yes it's our own individual decision whether or not to have it but when it comes to tackling Covid-19, my own view is that we are all in it together and we can only defeat it together.

When it comes to whether or not to have the vaccine, this decision can have implications for others and wider society, not just yourself.

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