'We urge you to get boosted now' - Suffolk leaders' plea over Omicron

Suffolk's political leaders have written to the public to urge them to get vaccinated against coronavirus

Suffolk's political leaders have written to the public to urge them to get vaccinated against coronavirus - Credit: Archant/East Suffolk Council/Mid Suffolk District Council/Paul Nixon

Suffolk's public leaders have penned an open letter to everyone in the county to urge them to get a coronavirus booster amid the threat of the Omicron variant.

Matthew Hicks, leader of Suffolk County Council, has co-signed the letter along with police and crime commissioner Tim Passmore and the five leaders of the district and borough councils.

They have issued an urgent plea to the public to get the vaccine, but said "there are many reasons to remain positive and hopeful" about the future.

A total of 52 confirmed cases of Omicron have been identified in Suffolk so far — but the real number is likely much higher.

The full letter is as follows:

Dear Suffolk resident,

As we reach the end of another turbulent and memorable year, we would like to thank you all for your resilience, determination and kindness to others that you have shown in 2021.

However, the UK now faces a new variant. Omicron cases continue to surge across the county, and we edge towards the new year with unease and uncertainty.

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Once again, we need you all to step-up your efforts to keep cases low in Suffolk. This means we must follow guidance and – most importantly – get your booster vaccination.

Suffolk has proved time and time again that we have the resolve and grit to get through this – and we must do so again.

At this point scientists cannot say with any certainty that Omicron is less severe, but we do know that it is more transmissible. To avoid a situation where our infection rate gets out of control, causes harm to those who are vulnerable and overwhelms our local hospitals, your actions and behaviours are vital.

The Government has now introduced Plan B and this means we should carefully consider the number of people we choose to mix with and decide what social contact is worth it. There are ways to protect ourselves when we do get together. These include wearing a mask (unless you have an exemption), washing your hands, ensuring proper ventilation and doing a lateral flow test before and after a social event. It’s these small acts that keep us and those we love safe. 

We also urge everyone to get boosted now. Science shows that vaccinations, especially the top-up booster dose, helps protect us from Omicron.

For those of you who may need to book either your first, second or booster vaccination please do so online at NHS.gov. For local information about drop-in clinics please visit the Suffolk and North Essex COVID-19 Vaccination Service. This also includes a link to Waveney services. Please get boosted now.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank our NHS colleagues for delivering the booster programme in Suffolk. From 7,000 people a day, we have now been tasked by the Government to vaccinate more than 18,000 each day. This is an enormous endeavour.

Suffolk ranks the highest in the East of England for the number of people vaccinated and this is because of the excellent systems we have in place. As we have proved successfully throughout this pandemic, such a huge ask can only be achieved by every Suffolk agency working together including public sector, blue light services and community and voluntary groups. We’d like to thank these agencies and all the volunteers who will be needed to achieve this.

We are fully supporting our NHS colleagues with the booster programme. Our work includes redeploying staff, offering premises including council buildings and communicating key messages and information. We are also offering free travel across Suffolk, either by bus or taxi, to anyone who needs to attend their vaccine appointment (for information visit: www.suffolk.gov.uk/GetVaccinated). This service is open to everyone in Suffolk.

We understand, especially in the run up to the festive season, that people may worry about the new variant and what 2022 may bring. However, there are many reasons to remain positive and hopeful. We have a hugely successful vaccination programme in Suffolk. Without doubt this has saved many lives and with the booster drive, will continue to do so. We also know that by working together, as we have done throughout the pandemic, we can keep our local communities safe.

Thank you for your continued support.

We hope you enjoy a safe and happy Christmas with your friends and families.

Thank you,

Cllr Matthew Hicks, Chair of the Local Outbreak Engagement Board and Leader of Suffolk County Council

Cllr John Ward, Leader of Babergh District Council

Cllr Steve Gallant, Leader of East Suffolk District Council

Cllr David Ellesmere, Leader of Ipswich Borough Council

Cllr Suzie Morley, Leader of Mid Suffolk District Council

Cllr John Griffiths, Leader of West Suffolk District Council

Tim Passmore, Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk