Andy Fox, Lincolnshire County Council’s assistant director for public health, said more than 45% of the adult population had now had their first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, adding “we’re not a million miles away” from reaching the half-way milestone.
Mr Fox said: “The vaccine is the big, new weapon that we have that changes things up from where we were before. Because if numbers do go up, it won’t necessarily result in increased hospital admissions or, of course, deaths.”
Last week’s verified NHS England figures show that more than 271,604 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered in Lincolnshire so far — of which were 5,281 second doses.
People aged 56 to 59 are now being invited to book their coronavirus vaccination this week, with 50-55s to follow shortly. A new text invite service is being used.
However, despite falling infection rates, there are warnings people not to jump the gun for fear of delaying the roadmap out of lockdown, with pupils returning to the classroom on Monday marking the next major milestone.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday evening that the move could see an increase in COVID transmissions, but that if the vaccine was doing its job, then it would not lead to worse situations.
However, Mr Fox said: “I’m optimistic because we’re doing so well with vaccination that we’ll be able to follow the road.
“If we get good evidence that vaccination is protecting people from being hospitalised and obviously from serious ill health or death, then that will be encouraging.
“I think people need to remember that if we jump ahead of the curve, if we do more than we’re allowed to do, if we go ahead of the roadmap, then actually what we’re likely to do is cause it to surge too fast, and then the government may well pause, say, the reopening of shops.
“So it’s definitely the time to stay, stick to the plan now, not go further than we should, and maximise the chances of shops reopening in April, and then us being able to mix indoors in May and then all restrictions being lifted off in June.”