News comment: Despite 'Freedom Day' we must still be vigilant - and we must all grab a jab

We really didn’t intend to be downbeat or circumspect about July 19. When planning coverage a month ago we thought banners, bunting, hugs and parties.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 2:04 pm
Krishan Patel with the Covid vaccine at Goldchem pharmacy, Southsea Picture: Habibur Rahman

However, as the summer has rolled on, one thing has become clear – now is not the time to sound the bugle and declare the all-clear. Cases of the terrible and terribly persistent coronavirus continue to increase dramatically, while hospitalisations and deaths are also on the way up, although not to the same degree as cases.

So – as many of the population do – we look with trepidation at the next few weeks. We fear that some people will see the end of coronavirus laws as signalling somehow the end of Covid, and that measures that have been employed to contain the virus will be binned. We fear that the wearing of masks, an action that is born out of wish to protect others, will be co-opted into the culture wars and be derided by some as a signal of being ‘woke’, and we fear all this will turbo-charge the third wave we are in.

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Some under 18s could be eligible for Covid vaccines soon

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Grab a jab

We look at the warnings of scientists, worried about the virus’s potential to mutate further as it can spread without restrictions, and we also heed those worried about further pressure on the NHS

That’s why we urge everyone eligible today to get vaccinated. Achieving herd immunity via vaccination is by far the safest and most certain way to have a chance of enjoying the summer – but we are not there yet.

Portsmouth’s vaccination rates are low, and we need to see them increase, and increase fast.

Some politicians are keen on military metaphors to describe the struggle against the coronavirus. These are not helpful as war needs bravery, while avoiding a virus needs people to be smart and diligent. But to use a Second World War analogy... we hoped that today would be akin to VJ Day, or at least VE Day. We fear, however, that we are only at D-Day. We can’t afford to ease up against this virus yet, whatever today’s legal changes – and we need to see every eligible adult come forward willing to grab their jab, for the good of everyone.