Over recent weeks, the social media feeds of most MPs have shown the very detailed work they are doing to map exactly what is going on with Covid-19 vaccinations in their constituency. You can read about what they are doing to ensure that bottlenecks for vaccination are addressed. You can read the letters they are writing to the health secretary which precisely describe what’s working, what’s not working so well and what needs to happen next.

Last week Sir Ed Davey won his battle to ensure that voluntary carers who need to be vaccinated to carry out their caring were added to the category of carers eligible for early vaccination.

Meanwhile, on Mark Jenkinson MPs social media feeds we get to see the announcement of the accreditation of the Moderna vaccine with a Conservative logo added to it. It would be much more useful if Mark could provide us with information about why the vaccines which should have been delivered to Cockermouth this week didn’t arrive (meaning that hundreds of planned vaccinations had to be cancelled at less than a day’s notice) and what he is doing to ensure that planned deliveries arrive in the future.


County Councillor (Cockermouth North)

A tonic for us all

It isn’t often in these bleak times we have something to celebrate. May I though your columns acknowledge the work that has been carried out by Castlegate and Derwent surgery?

Recently the medical practice carried out two days of Pfizer vaccinations. The organisation was awesome – about 20 smiling (behind masks) helpful and friendly volunteers welcomed you to the premises. Temperatures were taken and waiting areas indicated. Considering the snow last Friday, their ability to keep on time was remarkable.

There was no sense of urgency from the three professionals carrying out the vaccination. One to take efficient notes, a second to administer a painless jab and the third to clear away. After 15 minutes’ rest I was escorted out by yet more friendly smiling faces. What a tonic, in more ways than one.

Derwent Surgery has carried out 2,000 injections over four days. Friday saw 600 patients alone.

I am so grateful for the efficient care, planning and thought that went into this and to the volunteers who were large contributors. A beacon for the rest of the county.



Query on second jabs

My husband and I were due to get our second Pfizer vaccination on Wednesday. To our dismay, this was cancelled along with about 1,170 other elderly people who had been vaccinated in December at our Castlegate surgery.

The whole operation had been very well organised with the help of many local volunteers and we had all been looking forward to our second doses to make us completely safe.

NHS England had refused to supply the vaccines even though the surgery had ordered them well in advance. This is an appalling decision by Government to put our lives at risk by a delay of 12 weeks. Even the World Health Organisation had recently stated that this is a risky decision and the Government should not delay the second dose beyond Pfizer’s instructions.

Unlike the Oxford vaccine, which was designed and tested to be given 12 weeks apart, the Pfizer was designed and tested to be given three weeks apart with an efficacy of 95 per cent. Crucially, Pfizer stated: “There are no data to demonstrate that protection after the first dose is sustained after 21 days.” So there is no evidence that moving to 12 weeks for the second Pfizer dose will give sufficient protection. By then, it could be that the initial 52 per cent protection will have greatly diminished and the first expensive dose will have been virtually wasted.

This is no way to treat the vulnerable elderly and some frontline workers who are being treated like guinea pigs. This is purely a political decision to use our second vaccines elsewhere to ensure that the Government fulfils its ambition to have given many millions their first vaccination by mid February.

What happens if they run out of supply of the Pfizer before 12 weeks? Surely it is wiser to complete the treatment of groups of people they have started with?

But this Government’s record does not inspire us to trust in their decision making.

They are making a big mistake yet again. They were late with three lockdowns, late with closing schools, late with exam decisions and now late with one of the life-saving jabs.

Are we heading for yet another tragic Government error?


Great Broughton

Leaders urge: stay local

All authorities and partners in Cumbria are appealing to residents and visitors to adhere to the new lockdown guidance which are in place to protect the NHS and save lives.

Whilst it may be tempting to go out for a scenic drive in the Lake District, now is the time to stay home, look after one another and play your part to make sure that Cumbria is ready for the return of visitors when it is safe to do so.

As part of the lockdown guidance, one of the few reasons you can legitimately leave your home is to exercise. If you are leaving your home for exercise WE NEED YOU TO STAY LOCAL. This also gives people the chance to stay local and shop local – supporting many of your local essential businesses that are still able to open.

Infection rates in Cumbria are currently very high and by staying home and staying local for exercise we can all do our bit to help protect Cumbria’s residents and its communities.

With such iconic wintery scenes across the Lake District National Park, it may be tempting to travel to a favourite beauty spot for your daily exercise - but we are asking you to help us all by following the national rules and commit to staying local. We’re fortunate in living in Cumbria in that we are surrounded by many outdoor spaces on our doorstep, so why not explore the beautiful parks and walks close by and while you’re out support your local shop by shopping local.

With lockdown back upon us we are so sorry we can’t welcome you right now but we can’t wait to see you back to enjoy Covid-safe experiences across the whole of Cumbria, including the Lake District, when restrictions are lifted. In the meantime, please do continue to plan ahead, book ahead and give yourself something wonderful to look forward to. If you were due to visit in the next few weeks, do get in touch with your provider to arrange a new date. visitlakedistrict.com

Everybody in Cumbria, both business and public sector, are now actively planning and preparing for the return of visitors when the time is right and doing everything possible to ensure that they will have a safe and enjoyable time when it is the right time to reopen for business.

But for now – if you have to leave home for essential reasons - please stay safe and stay local.

Signed by the following community leaders

Lyn Simpson, chief executive at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust; John Lawlor OBE, chief executive, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear HS Foundation Trust; Members of Parliament John Stevenson (Carlisle); Dr Neil Hudson (Penrith and the Borders); Trudy Harrison (Copeland); Mark Jenkinson (Workington); Simon Fell (Barrow and Furness); Tim Farron (Westmorland and Lonsdale); Gill Haigh, managing director, Cumbria Tourism; Richard Leafe, chief executive, Lake District National Park; Mike Starkie, Mayor of Copeland; Pat Graham, chief executive, Copeland Borough Council; Sam Plum, chief executive, Barrow Borough Council, and leader Coun Ann Thomson; Andrew Seekings, chief executive, Allerdale Borough Council, and deputy leader Coun Mike Johnson; Coun Giles Archibald, leader, South Lakeland District Council, and chief executive Lawrence Conway; Coun John Mallinson, leader, and Jason Gooding, chief executive of Carlisle City Council and interim chief executive, Eden District Council; Coun Virginia Taylor, leader, Eden District Council; Jo Lappin, CEO of Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership and chair of the Business and Economic Response and Recovery Group; Peter McCall, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cumbria; and Chief Constable Michelle Skeer, Cumbria Constabulary.