This week saw those who have their 42nd birthday before July 1 called forward to book their Covid vaccine.

Second doses too are being administered in great numbers. The vaccination programme continues to work brilliantly, and lives have been saved from the protection they give.

The figures are just amazing. On Sunday, the total number of vaccine doses given in the UK reached 46.3 million.

Around 33.7 million people have now received their first dose and 12.6 million are fully vaccinated. This is keeping infection rates and, crucially, hospitalisations low across the West Midlands.

The key now is to keep up the pace. The vaccine take-up for those who are older has been magnificent, but we need to make sure all age groups want to get the jab.

The Government has launched a campaign aiming to encourage under-50s to take the vaccine. Research shows younger people are more hesitant. But we must all act collectively and do our bit to stop Covid. A high vaccine take-up rate across all age groups is the key.

And if what has happened in the UK over the last 12 months is not enough, we need only look at the terrible events in India right now to see Covid is not going away and that we must be vigilant.

I'm really pleased the Government is sending ventilators and oxygen concentrator devices to India as it battles this terrible virus. The country is our friend and partner in many areas, and we have a big Indian community in the West Midlands who, I know, is really worried about their relatives and friends.

Another weapon in the Covid armoury is free testing for those without symptoms and the Government has now made sure this is available across the country.

To be able to have the assurance of a negative test will help events in Stourbridge to restart, allow students back to university and shops and restaurants to have more confidence. Vaccinations are the first line of defence, but the jab is not 100 per cent effective. Testing is the back-up.

They are really easy to get hold of, either online through the GOV.UK website for a home order of seven rapid lateral flow home test kits, or look for local pharmacies or a local test site where you can collect them.

Let’s get testing. It will help stop the spread of infections and we need to make it as normal as wearing face masks has become.

On May 6, there are local elections across Stourbridge and the West Midlands. The big ones are the election for the West Midlands Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner, but the council elections are important too as these are the authorities that deliver services such as bin collection and planning.

It can be no surprise I will be backing Andy Street for Mayor and our excellent Conservative Dudley Council candidates, and Jay Singh-Sohal for Police and Crime Commissioner. But I would also say it is important to vote in all elections. Local democracy is the bedrock of our country.