‘Act now’ urges vaccine chief as Government figures show shockingly low uptake of winter Covid boosters in South Tyneside

The shocking low uptake of winter Covid booster jabs being taken-up by vulnerable people has been revealed by latest figures, with less than half of eligible adults and less than a fifth of “at risk” children receiving their booster dose.

Adults eligible for a Covid booster includes those over 50, people working in care homes and all adults registered as clinically vulnerable, including people who may be living with someone who is immonosuppressed.

Despite people being urged to get their jabs throughout the autumn to protect their own health and prevent undue strain on the NHS, figures provided by the NHS North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board provided following a Freedom of Information request show that as of December 6, only 42.8 per cent of eligible adults have taken-up this option.

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Uptake of Covid jabs by children who are “at risk” due to being clinically vulnerable is much lower again with 16.4 per cent aged five to 11 having received their winter booster, falling to just 14.7 per cent aged aged 12 to 15.

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The uptake has raised concerns for Professor Neil Watson who leads the vaccination programme for the North East.

He said: “Covid-19 hasn’t gone away and is still circulating in our region. For those who’ve serious health conditions or low immunity, it can cause serious illness and even death.

Vaccination is still the best protection we have. We know some people may feel they’re protected because they have had Covid previously or because they’ve had previous vaccinations. However, protection reduces over time. The latest booster has been developed to protect against the original virus and the omicron variant.

Professor Neil Watson has urged eligible people to "act now" and get their Covid booster ahead of the festive season.

“With the festive season fast approaching and a time when there’s lots of socialising, I would urge those most vulnerable, and people who live with them, not to delay and to act now.”

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Cllr Anne Hetherington, Lead Member for Adults, Health and Independence at South Tyneside Council, added: “Winter is well and truly here and we’re now seeing more seasonal illnesses circulating, particularly in schools and older adults. It’s important that you take up the offer of a free vaccine for Covid and flu when offered.”

Details of how to book your booster are on the NHS website.

Government figures have revealed a low uptake of Covid booster vaccines in South Tyneside. Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA Wire