The success of the UK vaccine rollout so far, means that, unless there is a sudden explosion in the number of people needing hospital treatment as a result of the new Omicron Covid 19 variant, we should all be able to look forward to a fairly normal Christmas in just a few weeks’ time.

Of course the trouble with new variants is that although we know they are different to previous variants, until further testing and research into them is complete, we don’t quite know which ways they are different – whether that’s transmissibility, severity of illness for those who catch the virus, or the difference in symptoms and transmissibility between different age groups.

Thankfully, scientists so far don’t seem think there’s any need to panic or assume the Omicron variant is able to ‘get around’ our current vaccines – but they are advising that we take sensible precautionary measures to slow the spread of the new variant while they do more research into it.

In the meantime, we know that having the booster jab (or the first and second jabs for the small number of people who haven’t already had them) significantly increases protection against the virus. Therefore it’s really important that we all get our next jab when it’s available to us based on age group and vulnerability.

Because vaccines are still one of the strongest defences in our arsenal against the virus.

Personally, Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year, probably for all the usual reasons that it is one of many people’s favourite times of the year. But Christmas is also a particularly special time to me as an MP because it means I get to spend more time going around the constituency and visiting some of our great community groups for Christmas Fayres, lights switch ons, Church services and lots of other community get togethers.

I was at St Mark’s Church in Pensnett last Saturday for their annual Christmas Fayre, and it really was brilliant to see people of all ages having a great time and getting into the Christmas spirit.

Last week I also had the pleasure of dropping in at local schools to award prizes to the overall winner and six runners-up of my Christmas card competition. More than 600 children entered this year so the competition was fierce, but it was the festive ‘tree Rex’ design by Harry Jones from Year 1 at Dawley Brook Primary that just had the edge and took first place.