‘Vaccines bring us together’ is the message from the new Director of Public Health for West Sussex, who will lead the county’s ongoing public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alison Challenger joined West Sussex County Council this month at the start of World Immunisation Week, which runs until 30 April.
Alison was previously Director of Public Health at Nottingham City Council, where for the past year she led the public health response to the pandemic for the council, the Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care System and Local Resilience Forum, including as Chair of the Tactical Coordination Group and Outbreak Control Board.
World Immunisation Week, which is supported by international bodies like the World Health Organisation and UNICEF, aims to promote the use and global importance of vaccines, which now help to protect us against more than 20 diseases including polio and smallpox.
Alison said the theme of World Immunisation Week this year, ‘vaccines bring us together,’ has never been truer though than during the current coronavirus pandemic: “COVID-19 has literally kept families, friends and communities apart as we’ve tried to prevent the spread of infection and keep each other safe.
“The vaccines developed have already had a huge impact, enabling restrictions to be eased and for us to be reunited with family and friends, in line with current guidelines.
“I am heartened to hear of the huge efforts that people have made during the past year to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“My role is to build on the excellent work and partnerships within West Sussex, continue the response, help keep us on the roadmap and build a legacy of healthy communities.
“Having the vaccine is the best way to protect yourself and others from the virus and keep West Sussex safe. That’s why I urge everyone who is eligible to book theirs as soon as possible, and for those who have had their first vaccine to follow it up with a second.”
Research is ongoing to understand to what extent people who have been vaccinated can still catch COVID-19 and pass it on to others.