This week marks the beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic in Southwark.
Nearly 1,000 vaccines had arrived into Southwark as we went to press, with local hospitals Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College Hospital among those dishing out the jabs.
Patients at the hospitals were among the first in the whole world to get the new Pfizer vaccine, which is around 95 per cent effective. Those aged over 80 and vulnerable frontline NHS staff are set to get the vaccine, alongside care home workers and residents.
Officials are on the hunt in earnest for mass vaccination sites in Southwark for the new year.
One patient at Guy’s, Lyn Wheeler, 81, got the vaccine on Tuesday, the first day it was available.
“I hope many, many people around the world will benefit from the vaccine,” she said as she stood beside the Prime Minister, who was paying a visit to the vaccination centre. We, too, hope the same.
This is a moment to celebrate: A process that normally takes years has been achieved in just months. It will save an incalculable number of lives once fully rolled out. We will again, in the not too distant future, be able to see our friends and family again after what has been a hellish year.
But the so-called ‘V-day’ is also a moment of reflection. Many in Southwark have lost their lives to this dreadful virus. We at the News have often detailed the anguish and pain felt by their families at lives taken too soon and before their time.
The sad truth is that more families may yet experience that heart-rending loss before the vaccine is fully rolled-out. So while this is a moment of jubilation for Southwark and the nation, we cannot afford to let our guard down.
It is in memory of those people that we all must continue to follow the rules until this disease is finally beaten.