In 1796, Edward Jenner (a country surgeon) inoculated a child with cowpox (vaccinia), having noted that dairymaids who had had cowpox were immune to the more lethal and disfiguring smallpox. The child quickly recovered and when the procedure was repeated with smallpox matter, no disease developed and the role of cowpox in providing immunity to smallpox was confirmed.
Jenner’s work is widely regarded as the foundation of immunology and of ‘Vaccination’, protecting populations from disease. Together with developing systems for fresh water and sanitation over the next 200 years, these have been considered the principle foundations of preventive public health based on robust, scientific methodology.
It’s worth remembering these early developments and just how far medical science has evolved, as we now see the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccinations across Cheshire East and beyond. Nonetheless, some residents have expressed anxieties that ‘covid vaccinations have been made too quickly to be safe’ or that the SAGE decision to prioritise older people first is wrong. (Interestingly, those same residents were confident in using annual ‘flu’ vaccines which have to be redesigned very year to remain effective!)
My response is that the international knowledge base for the family of corona viruses was extensive prior to Covid-19 and the immunological community have monitored each stage of vaccine development throughout the process. The Licensing Regulators of each Country independently evaluate each vaccine and so each one will have still had to comply with robust standards and safeguards multiple times. Profound thanks must be offered to the many thousands of individuals who came forward across the world, so that human trials of these vaccines could be conducted at pace.
With regard to who receives vaccinations; it is vital to vaccinate the most vulnerable first. Sadly it is in these groups that mortality rates, hospital admissions and extended lengths of hospital stay are highest. If we don’t control the virus in these groups, our NHS will be overwhelmed and just as importantly, if we can’t maintain some non-Covid capacity in our hospitals , the rate of ‘unexpected Non-Covid deaths’, cancelled operations and cancelled clinics will rise.
No-one wants Lockdown any longer than necessary but Infection rates are still rising and it is incumbent on all of us to play our part; whether taking up the offer of vaccination as and when we receive our phone call or letter from the NHS or for those of us further down the priority list, adhering to the National Lockdown restrictions whilst we wait our turn. Please be patient, keep to the guidelines and stay safe.
Cllr Janet Clowes MSc.BSc PGCE
Conservative Group Leader
Cheshire East Council
(Written for ‘Talking Politics’ Macclesfield Express w/b 11.01.2021)