DEVASTATING IMPACT: Booster vaccine slow take up concern
Redcar’s Margaret Dixon was one of the first to receive the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine, Image: South Tees Tees Hospitals NHS Trust
Middlesbrough Council’s chief executive has said the slow take-up of the Covid booster vaccine could have a devastating impact.
In an update to the Overview and Scrutiny Board on October 20, Tony Parkinson said that the town’s high rates of diabetes and lower life expectancy meant that people were at a higher risk if they skipped the booster vaccine.
If low rates of booster vaccination take-up continue the council could re-engage with the community champions to persuade people to have the jab.
Mr Parkinson added: “Our concern is, and it’s becoming a bit of a national concern, is the slowness with which the public are taking up their booster.
“The evidence that’s out there shows that around five to six months after having your second dose your immunity starts to drop quite significantly. So it’s really important that people get their booster jabs.
“There are plenty of jabs available, there are plenty of slots available but people taking up to booster is low.
“Our concern, is that as an area with a relatively low take-up of the jab in the first place if you then get people becoming blase and not bothering with the booster we are going to end up with an even greater percentage of our population, particularly the over 50s, who are in effect, unvaccinated.
“Because of the health profile of the town, we know we have poor health in the town, with high instances of type 2 diabetes, COPD (lung condition), lower life expectancy, then it’s more likely to have a really devastating impact on those individuals if they don’t get vaccinated.”
The chief executive added that if low take-up continued the council would also engage with different geographic and cultural groups around the town to boost the rates in those areas.
Cllr Chris Hobson, the member for Marton West, asked whether people were receiving letters to remind them about the booster jab.
Mr Parkinson said that the place where somebody was vaccinated will be contacting them, so it will be through the NHS.
Cllr Alma Hellaoui, who represents Newport, added that many people might not have had their second dose five to six months ago so may not have been invited for their booster yet, therefore it’s worth waiting a few weeks to fully evaluate the situation.
Speaking at the full council meeting on October 20, the first back in the council chamber, Mayor Andy Preston also urged people to get their booster jab.
He added: “We still need to push people to get these vaccinations, some people are still stubborn and obtuse and difficult, most won’t listen but we might catch the odd one.
“Obviously, if people get the chance to get their booster soon, which everybody will eventually, please take it up and remind others to take it up because everyone has got their foot off the gas, everyone feels comfortable lot of people think ‘I don’t need my booster, it’s all fine now’, but we all do.”
Figures updated on October 20 show 99 new cases of Covid in Middlesbrough with 628 over the last week.
This week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid told a Downing Street press conference that if people did not come forward for their booster jab then it was more likely restrictions would be reintroduced in England.
Words: Emily Craigie, Local Democracy Reporter
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