March 2021 Update from Sir Mike Penning MP

I am delighted that the vaccination rollout is progressing well. At time of writing, we have just met the target of vaccinating 15 million people by mid-February. I do not yet know how this will be reflected in the Prime Minister’s statement due on 22nd.

This time last year none of us could have foreseen that we would still be battling the SARS-CoV-2 virus one year on. Back then it was a lower news item affecting a country a long way from home. A year later and this terrible virus has caused immense suffering to so many people all over the world. I really feel for the many people who have lost someone dear to them. This really is not ‘just another flu’. It is an incredibly contagious coronavirus which can strike down even the fittest of people. It is right that we take extreme measures to stop the spread, even when these restrictions go against everything we believe in and cause so much hardship in themselves.

I am acutely aware that this lockdown is tough for so many people. Single people who feel they are prisoners in their own homes, families trying to work from home and educate young children at the same time and the three million or so people who, for one reason or another, have lost all their income yet failed to qualify for any extra support. Along with many other MPs, I have been lobbying the Government on behalf of these groups of people with, it has to be said, not a lot of success so far.

The good news is, of course, the vaccines and I am in awe of the work done by the team at Oxford University and AstraZeneca. We owe a lot to everyone who has been involved in the development, manufacture, transportation, and delivery of the vaccines.

I have been volunteering at the vaccination centre in Hemel Hempstead and I am so impressed by the organisation and the dedication of the NHS teams and volunteers. It has been bitterly cold recently, yet the teams were as cheerful as ever.

When you are called, do please make sure you get your jab. It is an important part in our journey back to normality. This pandemic will not go on forever and we will be outside in the sunshine once again.

Meanwhile, my office remains open on a skeleton staff, with others working remotely, if you need help please email me on .

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