The start of a new year gives us time to look forward to new opportunities and aspirations for the year ahead – and 2021 is a year when we may all be doing this more so than usual. I think we can all agree that 2020 was one of the toughest that we have faced. The measures implemented to save lives and protect the NHS have been incredibly hard in so many ways, for so many people. Many of us know someone who has been taken ill of Covid-19 and sadly there is a growing number of us that have lost a friend or loved one.
But the last few days of 2020 brought some much-needed good news: the first vaccine was approved for public use. This was followed by the decision that two other jabs could be used in the UK. Having three vaccines gives us light at the end of the tunnel. The new injections are the key to unlocking our ability to see loved ones again, pop into town to grab a coffee or going on a well-deserved holiday. But we cannot let our guard down just yet. The new strain of the coronavirus is still in our community and still poses a lethal threat. That is why it is vital that you continue to follow the Welsh Government laws closely so that the NHS is not overwhelmed and people are protected.
This week I moved an e-petition relating to the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines Westminster Hall. This petition was signed by an astonishing 472,621 people and demonstrated the passion people have in securing vaccines for their communities and our key workers. It is important to note that this debate was not about people leapfrogging others who deserve the vaccine; it was about ensuring that our teachers, school staff and first responders are able to access the vaccine.
As it stands, only NHS staff and healthcare workers have been considered as priority groups by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). But I and many others think that overlooks the role that teachers and frontline workers have already played during the pandemic, and the contribution that they will continue to make.
As a former teacher, I recognise that education is the greatest gift that we can give our future generations. It is important that we protect our teachers and learners to the best of our abilities so that we can say, with our hand on our heart, that we did the best we could for those who come next. The vaccination programme is part of that deal and I will continue to urge all involved to find the best way forward.
I also had the opportunity to put pressure on the Chancellor to demonstrate where the UK Government was providing new money to Wales. Throughout the pandemic we have seen much fanfare from the Conservatives about money being promised to the Welsh Government only for us to find out that it was simply a reannouncement of old money. This approach to Gower and Wales is utterly unacceptable.
During my question to the Chancellor to match his words with action. Instead of trying to undermine the Welsh Government – who are doing their utmost to support businesses and people with one hand tied behind its back – the UK Government needs to give us our fair share. Not in the distant future, but now.
You can keep up to date with Welsh Government announcements and information on their dedicated coronavirus page. If you have any issues or concerns to raise with me as your local MP, please get in touch by emailing email@example.com or calling 01792 899025. My office is not open, my staff and I are working from home, but my email and phone are still being monitored and responded to. You may experience a slight delay in receiving a response from us as the demand has increased, but we will get back to you as soon as we can.