Government not recording how many have refused COVID vaccine ‘because uptake has been so high’

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11: People queue outside the mass NHS Covid-19 vaccine centre that has been set up at the Millennium Point centre in Birmingham on January 11, 2021 in Birmingham, England. The location is one of several mass vaccination centres in England to open to the public this week. The UK aims to vaccinate 15 million people by mid-February. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
People queue outside the mass NHS COVID-19 vaccine centre that has been set up at the Millennium Point centre in Birmingham. (Getty)

The success of the COVID vaccine rollout across the UK has meant the government is not currently recording those who have refused the jab.

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson hailed the “colossal” achievement of more than 10 million people being vaccinated in a little over a month.

And those rates have meant that the government is not keeping track of the people from the first four priority groups who have turned it down, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has said.

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, Zahawi confirmed that the names of all those who have been given the jab “goes into the national immunisation and vaccination system”.

Britain's Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, Nadhim Zahawi, who has responsibility for the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines, reacts as he waks along a street in Westminster in London  on December 2, 2020 as England emerges from a month-long lockdown to combat the spread of Covid-19. - Britain on Wednesday became the first western country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine for general use, announcing a rollout of Pfizer-BioNTech's jab from next week in a major advance for humanity's fightback against the coronavirus. (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said the government was currently not keeping a record of those who have refused the COVID jab. (Getty)

However, when pressed if data gets recorded if people refuse to have the vaccine, Zahawi replied: “At the moment the uptake is so high amongst the four cohorts that we're vaccinating.”

Zahawi said the government would “look at” the refusal rates, but insisted that “this is the highest uptake of any vaccination programme, including the flu vaccination programmes that the NHS has run”.

Watch: Brits most likely to take up vaccine offer

He added: “Currently the good news is the UK is a standout country in terms of people actually wanting to keep themselves safe by being vaccinated and keeping their families and communities safe as well.”

Zahawi’s comments come two weeks after the National Care Association (NCA) raised concerns about the number of carers taking up the COVID vaccine.

Ian Somauroo, who owns the Meadows Care Home in Greenford, told Sky News that half of his staff had refused the jab and called on the government to do more to combat misinformation.

Reacting to the care home refusals, Nadra Ahmed, chair of the NCA, said: "I'm very concerned, because it's a real form of tension and anxiety for the provider, to know that they will have people in their services who potentially are carrying the virus and could be asymptomatic.

"I think it's a major hurdle for us to get over this. Because we know the vaccination is a key that will assist us to mitigate the risks.”

As the rollout of the vaccine continues, it was announced on Thursday that a government-backed study is being launched to determine whether different coronavirus vaccines can safely be used for the first and second doses.

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The programme, which has received £7m in funding from the government’s vaccine taskforce, aims to establish whether a mixed-dose vaccine regimen is better than, or a good alternative to, using two doses of the same COVID-19 jab.

Zahawi said the study would not impact on the current rollout.

He told Sky News: “It will report probably after the summer and of course it will have no impact on the deployment…

WADEBRIDGE, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: John Larter, aged 79, receives the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccination on February 1, 2021 in the vaccination centre at the Royal Cornwall Showground Wadebridge, England. In total 50 large scale vaccination centres are available across England. The latest Government figures for week ending 24th January show that 5,792,159 people across England have received their first dose of the vaccine. (Photo by Hugh Hastings/Getty Images) (Photo by Hugh Hastings/Getty Images)
John Larter, aged 79, receives the Oxford vaccination in the vaccination centre at the Royal Cornwall Showground in Wadebridge. (Getty)

“This is more longer-term, keeping us ahead of – at least in a leadership position, I should say – in the world, in helping the whole world because no one is safe until we are all safe.

“If we understand more about how we can use vaccines together then we should be in a much stronger position in terms of vaccinating the United Kingdom, but also the rest of the world.”

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