Evening Standard Comment: London must redouble Covid vaccination efforts

·2-min read
Festival goer Miles Moss receives his second Pfizer vaccine dose at a Covid-19 vaccination bus at the Latitude festival in Southwold, Suffolk (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)
Festival goer Miles Moss receives his second Pfizer vaccine dose at a Covid-19 vaccination bus at the Latitude festival in Southwold, Suffolk (Jacob King/PA) (PA Wire)

It is a stark warning for the capital — London lags behind the rest of the country on vaccinations, placing individuals at risk and leaving our city far from herd immunity.

In the UK, 72.7 per cent of people have received two doses, but in London it is 62.1 per cent. And that figure masks local variation. In Lambeth, for example, 59.7 per cent of residents are fully vaccinated.

This is about more than younger people not getting around to having their jabs. There are large pockets of vaccine hesitancy in the capital from people of all ages and backgrounds, bolstered by an epidemic of misinformation.

To counter this, we need to adopt a carrot and stick approach. For the young, small incentives such as food delivery vouchers may be enough to draw them into vaccine centres. Yet for more difficult cases, the stick may also be necessary. That is where vaccine passports come in — to send the message that to live a normal life, you need to get a jab.

The private sector also has a responsibility. Companies must do more to encourage employees to get vaccinated, particularly those in public-facing roles.

And we need to redouble our efforts to deliver reliable information into areas of low vaccine take-up, crucially from trusted community sources. We must go door to door, leaving no stone unturned in this great effort.

The term “herd immunity” carries all sorts of confusion. Ultimately, widespread vaccination is the safest and best way to achieve this, by vastly reducing the overall amount of virus able to spread in the population.

New variants make this even more challenging. Professor Karl Friston, of University College London, believes that Delta has raised the herd immunity threshold to 93 per cent of the population due to its higher rates of transmissibility.

Covid-19 is not yet done — and vaccines remain our path to normality.

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