Damian Collins, our Member of Parliament writes:
It's excellent news that this week sees the start of mass COVID vaccination in Folkestone at the Civic Centre, as well as at Lydd Airport on Romney Marsh. The Folkestone centre will be open seven days a week and operate eleven hours a day. It is expected that they will perform over 2000 vaccinations per week. The Folkestone vaccination hub will also take delivery of the Oxford vaccine this week, which is easier to store and transport, and can be used to vaccinate more vulnerable people in their own homes.
These new facilities add to the vaccination work that has already been carried out for local residents at the Oaklands surgery in Hythe, at the William Harvey hospital in Ashford and at the vaccination centre in Dover. The Oaklands surgery in Hythe is the vaccination hub for that town, as well as Hawkinge, Lyminge, and Cheriton. They started providing vaccines on 21st December, and by the end of this week will have delivered 4,800 doses. I would like to thank all of the NHS staff and our local GP practices for all of their work so far in delivering vaccines to local residents.
There's been some discussion recently about the level of the mortality from COVID in the Folkestone and Hythe district, and some people have suggested that we have the highest rate of deaths in the country. This would certainly be surprising, as even just looking within Kent, we haven’t had the highest infection rates, we are not the most deprived, we don’t have the highest population aged over 75 and according to the Sport England Active People survey, we are not the least physically active area. I've looked carefully into this issue because it's important that we have the facts for understanding what's going on in our community.
When looking at the data in detail, it can be seen that we do not have the highest level of deaths from COVID 19. In 2020, according to the registrations of the deaths of people from Folkestone and Hythe district, in 228 cases coronavirus was listed as the cause. This means that, based on an average rate per 100,000 there were 201 deaths from coronavirus in our district. It is a tragedy to see lives lost before their time because of this virus, but there are many parts of the country where the mortality rate has been higher. For example, the rate of deaths per 100,000 people is 234 in Rotherham, 232 in Wigan and 228 in Barnsley. There has been some reporting that Folkestone and Hythe had the highest rate of people who died within 28 days of receiving a positive test for coronavirus, however the virus was not the cause of death for many of those people. As all hospital patients are tested for COVID, including cancer patients and those suffering from other long-term conditions, many have sadly died from those underlying health problems, rather than from COVID 19. Our focus now must be on keeping people safe, protecting the NHS and delivering the vaccine, but it is important that we use the most accurate and up to date data when discussing the impact of coronavirus so far.