If 2020 provided precious few reasons to be cheerful, 2021 is looking immensely better – and there is no more palpable way to feel that than to visit a vaccination centre.
Last weekend I was privileged to see both the Boston PRSA site and the smaller Skegness Storehouse operation in action. Talking briefly to staff there, it was striking that the words people used had so much in common: proud, pleased and even lucky. Not words we’ve had cause to use very often recently.
And in truth, nobody is lucky that they’re part of this awful pandemic: the closed businesses, the lost social opportunities and the host of new experiences foregone are all tragedies themselves and nothing compared to the actual loss of life. But the sense of light at the end of the tunnel is almost physical, even among people at the vaccination centres who were only doing the job because they’d lost others.
Government is acutely aware of how important the less obvious effects of lockdown are: on mental health, on fitness, on education and on job prospects. Not a single decision is taken lightly on these vital matters. But in talking to other staff at the PRSA, who have also been involved in treating patients on COVID wards, it was clear that the pressure the NHS is under, and the resulting pressure on individual people, is something that has to be at the front of all our minds. Nurses and doctors, porters and cleaners have seen things at work none of them ever envisaged.
One of several ways in which you can show your gratitude to these people is to take up the vaccine when it’s offered to you, either at a larger site such as that in Boston or at the smaller local ones in Skegness, Spilsby and elsewhere. And another is, whenever you see people spreading nonsense about whether COVID is real tell them, in no uncertain terms, that they’re making this miserable process of lockdown last longer.