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Speech by the Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondre

17 September 2021

Today I am joined by the Minister for Health and Social Services, Deputy Richard Renouf, the Children & Education Minister, Deputy Scott Wickenden, as well as Dr Ivan Muscat and the Head of our Vaccination Programme, Becky Sherrington.

Together we will be setting out the updates to our vaccination programme for the coming Autumn.

Today we are announcing plans to begin offering the Pfizer vaccine to 12–15-year-olds both on island and for those children in care or otherwise cared for off-island.

We can also confirm that Jersey's Vaccination Programme is ready to start giving COVID-19 boosters at pace to provide protection as we move into Autumn and Winter.

I want to thank Islanders for their continued patience and care, which has seen the number of hospitalisations due to COVID remain low over the last several weeks.

Thanks to your efforts, we are now in Stage 7 of our Reconnection Roadmap with very limited restrictions placed on island life and with the return of a large degree of normality.

We have been able to host the first large events in more than a year, including the Jersey International Air Display and this weekend's Electric Park and Super League Triathlon events.

This has been made possible due to our excellent vaccination programme, the hard work of businesses and event organisers, and again I want to thank Islanders for acting responsibly.

As we have said before, vaccination has changed our COVID management strategy. 

If you are over 50 and double vaccinated, you are 25 times less likely to be hospitalised than an unvaccinated person over 50.

This has brought us a long way to achieving our goal of protecting the most vulnerable in our community.

This does not mean the future is without risk – far from it – but it does mean that instead of applying the law to close businesses and restrict freedoms, our current approach emphasises helping people make the right risk-based choices for them.

There are practical steps which we can all take to lower our risk of catching COVID, and I know these will be familiar to Islanders.

Whether it is choosing to meet others outside or in smaller groups, maintaining physical distancing wherever possible or choosing to wear a mask – there are practical things we can all do to keep the risk of transmission low in our community.

We fully expect the rates of COVID to fluctuate over the coming months with cases rising and falling perhaps several times as we progress through Autumn and into Winter.

Ministers will be closely monitoring these trends but as we have said before, our key focus at this stage is now on hospitalisations rather than simply case numbers.

The announcements we are making today on updates to our vaccination programme will further insulate our public health system from the worst effects of COVID-19 and give additional protection to our community.

We hope to avoid undue disruption to Islanders daily lives and the threat of COVID-19 has been reduced to the vast majority of Islanders who have been vaccinated.

However, this does remain a very serious disease, particularly for those who are unvaccinated and we must not become complacent. We will step up our measures if the evidence indicates that restrictions are once again needed, but our approach will remain focused on overall public health, rather than simply on case numbers.

For Islanders over the age of 80, care home residents or all Health Care, Care Home or Social Care staff, bookings are open from today. So, you can visit slash vaccine now or call the Coronavirus helpline to book your appointment if you are in either of those eligible groups.

We've seen an excellent uptake for the first two doses of the vaccine and I would urge Islanders to get their third dose as soon as they can.

If for any reason, you've not yet had your first dose, there is still time. Walk-in appointments are still available at Fort Regent and vaccination remains the most important thing you can do to protect yourself, your friends, family and those around you, from this disease.

We'll also soon be hosting an "ask the experts" Facebook live event for Islanders who might have questions about vaccination or our pandemic response.

The announcements we have made today will ensure that even more Islanders are protected and vaccinated against COVID-19, further improving our community's resilience in the face of this disease.

But to ensure this we need your help. Please do book your appointment to receive a booster and encourage your friends and family to do the same. As the health minister has said, the flu vaccine is also particularly important this year so please, visit your local pharmacy, GP or the vaccine centre at Fort Regent to receive your jab.

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