<by Margaret Marks, ONE Haverhill Partnership board member>
Since ONE Haverhill Partnership was formed almost nine years ago, health has been at the forefront of so many of our projects.
For the last year, as we have battled a pandemic and lived through something none of us could have ever foreseen, the spotlight has never shone more on the healthcare sector.
Right now, I think we are all glued to the daily national vaccination numbers.
They have rightly become a signal of hope that restrictions can be lifted at the right time and our lives can start to resume some semblance of normality.
In Haverhill, the Epicentre, the brand new R&D building on Haverhill Research Park, has quickly and impressively been turned into a vaccination centre.
It is heartening to know this has happened on our doorstep, just like there are green shoots of positivity when we see the daily number of national vaccinations grow at quite some pace.
Of course, there have been obstacles on the ground – largely around the supply of vaccine and the careful conditions that must be adhered to, especially in the case of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccination.
Lessons must be learned by any challenges and obstacles encountered in our local area and I know the Suffolk GP Federation, Unity Healthcare and Haverhill Family Practice have all worked incredibly hard to overcome them.
Speaking to people on the ground, there is a huge amount of complexity in delivering the vaccine and the planning around it.
One of the takeaway lessons must be that we don’t compare the laudable vaccine efforts in Haverhill to any other similar programme anywhere else in the country.
Every localised vaccination programme is different to the next one, with different staffing levels, different demographics and different vaccine quantities for example, rendering such comparisons pretty much useless.
We must also remember that there is a three-week period after having the vaccine when you still don’t have the level of immunity, likewise it is nationally noted that we don’t yet know how effective it is at stopping the spread.
We must all listen, learn and take advice. For instance, please log your mobile phone number with your local GP to ensure you will be notified as quickly and as efficiently as possible when it is your turn.
But make sure you log a separate mobile number for each person in your household. For instance, one shared mobile number between a husband and wife will slow things down considerably.
We should all be celebrating that a vaccination centre has opened in Haverhill and it is starting to make a real difference.
That our town’s famed volunteer spirit is once again being galvanised, whether planning free taxi journeys for people who can’t get to the centre or other individuals going above and beyond on a daily basis.
We should be buoyed also by the fact that so many people are getting the jab. Soon, we hope, we can start lifting restrictions at the right time and at the right pace.