I was really heartened to see pictures of people receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations over the last few days.

The vaccine represents our route out of the pandemic and to see the vaccination programme really ramp up is great news indeed.

Here in Swindon many of our care home residents have now received the vaccine, including in our two council-run care homes at Fessey House and Whitbourne House, which is fantastic.

Almost all the staff in Fessey and Whitbourne have also had their jabs so they can continue to look after some of our most vulnerable residents. They have done an outstanding job in really difficult circumstances and I would like to once again thank them for their efforts over the past 10 months.

Locally all GP-led, community-based coronavirus vaccination sites in Swindon have now opened their doors. This means all people in the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire region aged 80 or over will soon be invited to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, if they have not already.

The NHS expect that up to 9,000 doses of coronavirus vaccine will have been administered to Swindon priority groups by the end of January.

We are really pleased to be able to offer up our STEAM Museum as one of the main vaccination centres in the Borough and more people are now able to get their jabs at the site after the Wyvern Health Partnership joined Brunel Healthcare Group in using the museum for its patients.

The feedback I have received from those that have received their vaccinations at STEAM has been overwhelmingly positive, something that was reflected in the Advertiser’s letters pages this week. I would like to thank all the volunteers who have come forward, including Rotary Club members, to assist with ensuring that those arriving for their jab are directed into and out of STEAM quickly and efficiently.

The vaccination centre at STEAM is not open for walk-ins, however, and only those with a confirmed appointment will be able to be seen. You will be sent a letter from your GP offering you a vaccination appointment.

More information about the vaccination programme in the local area can be found online by visiting www.bswccg.nhs.uk.

Further details about the vaccine itself can also be found online at www.nhs.uk.

Of course, it will take many months for the whole population to be vaccinated and we need to keep following the public health guidance to keep ourselves, our loved ones, friends and colleagues safe.

As I write this column, I have just received the latest case rate data for Swindon and, although our case rate has almost halved from the levels we saw a few weeks ago to 314.1 per 100,000 of the population, we cannot think we are winning this battle.

You only have to look at the pressure our own Great Western Hospital is under to see the effects the virus is having on people in our community.

So please be vigilant, act like you have the virus and minimise your contact with others. It’s still up to all of us to play our part.