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Letters: Vaccinations save us from Covid deaths, so why not get them done faster?

·9 min read
The vaccination centre at the Science Museum in Kensington, London - Rob Pinney/Getty 
The vaccination centre at the Science Museum in Kensington, London - Rob Pinney/Getty

SIR – About 500,000 vaccinations a day are being administered, thanks to the NHS and volunteers. Surely we should be aiming for double the figure, so individuals are protected sooner.

Or is there a shortage of vaccines that the Government is not wishing to disclose?

Raymond Williams
Chigwell, Essex

SIR – The head of the NHS is reported as saying that vaccination cannot go faster than supplies allow. The Department of Health and Social Care said: “There are no shortages of Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine, and deliveries are on time and as ordered.”

You also reported on the front page yesterday that ministers said Britain had enough Pfizer vaccine to jab all children aged 12-17 (even though they are not being inoculated yet).

If the vaccine is ordered centrally, why is it so difficult to ascertain the correct situation?

Bob Beaumont
Shirley, Warwickshire

SIR – As a surgeon in training in 1985, it was a requirement for me to be vaccinated against Hepatitis B, or I could not wield a scalpel or needle. This was to protect patients should a hole inadvertently be made in me while I was making a hole in the patient.

I was then in America for a year, with a small risk of catching HIV (then a death sentence) from the American Hepatitis B vaccine available. But needs must. Since then, I have had to have antibody tests while working in the NHS and private sector in Britain.

I would rather a shortage of staff than unvaccinated workers in situations where Covid transmission is likely to affect the vulnerable, who can neither pick and choose their carers nor give informed consent.

That some staff might not apply for positions, or would leave if told to have a vaccine, is not a valid excuse for placing this vulnerable group in danger. Covid in this group is more dangerous than staff shortages.

Andrew Waterfield FRCS
St Albans, Hertfordshire

SIR – Those already vaccinated are impatient for opening. They are “safe” (Letters, June 16). However, young adults aren’t vaccinated yet. As a mother of two 20-somethings, I think it’s important to wait a few weeks in order to get that first vaccine administered and operative.

Sue Hardy
Hitchin, Hertfordshire

SIR – Perhaps experience from last century’s mass polio vaccination programme is pertinent to mandatory inoculation for care-home staff. So-called infantile paralysis was rife in the 1950s, when junior schools were offered the polio vaccine.

However, succumbing to rumours of possible side effects, and given the option of declining, as an eight-year-old I chose not to be stabbed (as I saw it). For the 70 years since, I have been constantly reminded of one of the possible side effects of not being vaccinated: I contracted polio.

Bruce Denness
Niton, Isle of Wight

Pupils’ catch-up

SIR – As a qualified and experienced teacher (now retired), I spent my last year working with special needs pupils whose reading skills were more than two years behind other children’s.

Until March last year, I volunteered one morning a week at a local academy, again dealing with special needs children, to the satisfaction and appreciation of all.

Having received my second vaccination, I rang the academy to say that I was happy to resume my volunteer work. I was told that no one from “outside” would be allowed into the school until September.

I am more than a little frustrated. These children need help but my offer has been suffocated by over-sensitive Covid rules. Children don’t stop growing; needs just get deeper.

Margaret Tansley
Wold Newton, East Yorkshire

Acting out

SIR – When will objectors understand (Letters, June 16) that actors, singers and dancers represent someone, or something, else while on stage?

For instance, neither Sir David Suchet nor Sir Peter Ustinov were Belgian, but both played Hercule Poirot to perfection. It is wokery not Covid that will kill theatre.

David Barlow
Cury, Cornwall

SIR – After Scottish Opera’s withdrawal from the Sky Arts awards because white singers were cast as Chinese characters (Letters, June 14), I fear its repertoire will be restricted to Maria Stuarda, Lucia di Lammermoor and Macbeth. At least the all-tartan sets can be recycled.

Derek Brown
Kelso, Roxburghshire

Negative energy

SIR – Octopus Energy, with other advertisers, is to boycott GB News because it is supposedly promoting hate speech. I have been watching the new channel with interest and have seen no sign of any such thing.

Octopus Energy is free to advertise wherever it likes, just as I am free to purchase my gas and electricity from wherever I choose. I am about to switch energy suppliers, but will be boycotting Octopus Energy because of its illiberal stance.

Dr Tony McAllister
Hertford

Secrets and lies

SIR – Can it be right for Dominic Cummings to publish screenshots of WhatsApp messages between him and Boris Johnson, which allegedly castigate the Health Secretary?

If government employees do not have to sign confidentiality agreements, surely it is about time they did. This might prevent former public servants from spilling the beans on private messages in a fit of pique.

Peter Kievenaar
Chelsworth, Suffolk

Short-lived bulbs

SIR – The cost of light bulbs that conform to new regulations is extortionate.

I have taken to writing the date of installation on a bulb when it is fitted. Not one has lasted the advertised two years, and the supplier has so far honoured this shortfall in lifespan with free replacements. The manufacture and distribution footprint must by now have exceeded that of conventional bulbs.

Michael Marks
Shobdon, Herefordshire

Britain and America

SIR – Andrew Roberts is right: despite what the doubters say, there is a Special Relationship.

The English-speaking peoples and the Soviet Union were the winners of the Second World War. Russia had ripped the guts out of the Wehrmacht but could not have stood alone. It was the supply of limitless US materiel that enabled tanks to roll into Germany.

The British Empire and dominions had stood alone against Hitler for more than a year, but it was America joining the war in December 1941 that enabled the Western maritime nations to mobilise fully against Germany and Japan. The only real winner by 1945 was the United States, the richest and most powerful country in the world.

One of the Allies’ trump cards was intelligence, estimated to have shortened the war by several years. British pre-eminence in codebreaking was recognised by the United States – and, after an informal agreement relating to the 1941 Atlantic Charter, the 1943 Brusa Agreement was enacted in 1946 by Britain and America.

After the war, the United States and the British Empire took the lead in forming a new world order – which has lasted until relatively recently, despite tensions and challenges.

Admiral Lord West of Spithead (Lab)
London SW1

Migrants from France

SIR – Perhaps Priti Patel could explain why, despite millions of pounds being thrown at the problem of Channel migrants, hundreds are still being picked up by Border Force.

Better still, perhaps a representative of the French government could explain why the French authorities – with considerable financial support from Britain – still fail to stem the flow. Does France need reminding that it signed a joint agreement with Britain last November to prevent these crossings? France was to deploy advanced surveillance technology, with an increase in police numbers.

Stephen Howey
Woodford Green, Essex

Shop and shelter

SIR – Our wonderful village bakery and general store have had awnings (Letters, June 16) for nearly a century.

They used to be the perfect place to stand and gossip in the shade during the summer, but recently they’ve been more useful for socially distanced queueing in driving wind and rain.

Lesley Thompson
Lavenham, Suffolk

The formidable lady behind the Queen’s brooch

 the Queen wearing the Jardine Star brooch at the Derby in 2019 - Paul Marriott / Alamy 
the Queen wearing the Jardine Star brooch at the Derby in 2019 - Paul Marriott / Alamy

SIR – You mentioned that the Queen wore the Jardine Star diamond brooch for her recent meeting with President Joe Biden.

This brooch was given to the Queen by my great-great-aunt Eda, Lady Jardine, a daughter of Henry Johnston Younger of the Younger’s brewing family (later Scottish and Newcastle) and wife of Sir William Jardine, 9th Baronet of Applegirth.

She was, by all accounts, an extremely formidable lady, who competed in the Monte Carlo Rally – winning the Coupe des Dames on at least one occasion. She was described by one relative as “someone who would have commanded an armoured division with distinction”.

Lady Jardine followed the example of her father (who left much of his fortune to the Salvation Army) by funding a charitable trust. This was to the chagrin of my grandfather, her nephew, who, as she had no children, had hoped to inherit the money.

Tim Wright
Fernhurst, West Sussex

Travel restrictions hamper volunteers’ work

SIR – Every year, thousands of British volunteers travel to hospitals, schools, orphanages, refugee camps and other projects in low-income countries. Often they fly at their own expense.

Covid-19 has given them difficulties enough, but Britain’s now near-indefensible travel restrictions have made their work all but impossible.

The India variant has contributed to UK cases for well over a month, but France, Spain and Italy all continue to have many times more daily Covid-19-related deaths than Britain – and far lower vaccination rates. Yet it is the EU, not global Britain, that is opening its borders to travellers who have proof of vaccination. Inoculated British volunteers can travel freely to Spain or France but must pay, and half-imprison themselves, to come home.

Vaccination has a double purpose: to protect the individual and, by reducing transmission, to protect communities – the principle of herd immunity. With Britain’s successful vaccine rollout, travel restrictions for vaccinated people should be lifted immediately.

Professor Neil Scolding
Universities of Bristol, UK, and Gulu, Uganda

SIR – My husband and I flew back from Italy, where we visited our son and his family, and saw our five-month-old granddaughter for the first time.

We are both fully vaccinated. We have jumped through every hoop and now have daily phone calls from NHS Test and Trace. The likelihood that either of us has picked up Covid-19 is tiny. Yet much money is being spent on a pointless quarantining policy.

The emphasis on how we must now live our lives seems more and more out of kilter with the statistics. The NHS has been saved – at least from this one virus. Stop moving the goalposts.

Ruth Leach
Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire