Evening Standard Comment: London still has work to do on Covid jabs take-up

·2-min read
A person receiving a Covid-19 jab (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)
A person receiving a Covid-19 jab (Kirsty O’Connor/PA) (PA Wire)

The widespread take-up of vaccines is the number one reason the UK may avoid another economically disastrous lockdown this Christmas. But despite the success of the roll-out, there are worrying signs that London still has work to do.

Our report today reveals that up to 2.7 million Londoners over the age of 16 remain unvaccinated — without even receiving a first dose — according to Professor Kevin Fenton, the capital’s public health chief.

This means that millions of Londoners are at far greater risk of contracting and spreading the virus, with the worst affected being hospitalised and ultimately dying. Huge discrepancies also exist within our city. Professor Fenton points out that nine boroughs account for nearly half of the capital’s unvaccinated population.

Take Hackney, where the borough’s mayor admits that 100,000 of its nearly 300,000 population have not been vaccinated — a sobering figure. As we are seeing in parts of Europe, a pandemic of the unvaccinated is taking hold. Restrictions are having to be reimposed and many more people are suffering unnecessarily as a result.

The capital is leading the way on booster jabs, a vital part of our effort to ensure the most vulnerable have the best possible protection over the winter. But we face more problems with the slow pace of the vaccine roll-out for young people.

The London health board has been informed that fewer than half of the city’s schools received a visit by a vaccination team before half-term, with 65,000 jabs administered, representing a 30 per cent take-up rate. The Government had a target of offering all pupils a jab before the break.

It is clear there is a London-specific problem and we must redouble our efforts: rooting out disinformation, going door-to-door and engaging local leaders to encourage as many residents as possible to get vaccinated.

Our individual health, our NHS and our economic recovery depend on getting as many jabs in arms as possible.

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