‘This isn’t a race’ – Hackney defends slow vaccine rollout

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout has caused concern amongst Hackney residents. Pic: Torsten Simon

Hackney’s director of health claimed the rollout of the boroughs Coronavirus vaccinations was going very well despite Hackney being the fifth lowest area for over 70s receiving a jab.

Only 72.6% of Hackney’s over 70 population had received their first vaccination according to data released by the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group in mid-February.

South East London meanwhile has vaccinated 86.2% of their over 70s.

In a live question and answer session at the end of February, Dr Sandra Husbands and Hackney’s Mayor, Phil Glanville answered questions posed by frustrated residents who were confused by the slowness of the current process.

Husbands did acknowledge that Hackney’s rollout was not on par with many other London boroughs. However, she said: “The schedule is controlled by the NHS which is decided on a national level.”

‘This isn’t a race’

The issue is also determined by the take up of vaccinations by residents themselves. Although Husbands confirmed that vaccination slots were filled the majority of the time, she did provide insight into practical reasons as to why the take up could be slower.

For some in the over 70 age brackets, they may feel as though they need more information on the vaccine before taking it themselves and instead wait to see how others react.

Glanville also said a major factor was geography and convenience. Hackney has four mass vaccination sites and although it is one of the smaller boroughs, many may find it difficult to travel to a site or prefer to be able to take their vaccine at their local GP where they feel more comfortable.

Vaccination centres are signposted around Hackney. Pic: HelloImNik

Questions were also posed regarding language barriers. Husbands informed residents that despite all vaccination information and texts from the NHS being in English, interpreters can be provided if needed.

When asked if there had been any data collected regarding ethnicities and who was taking the vaccine, Husbands said that currently in the UK the ethnicity with the lowest uptake of the vaccine is Black British, with White British having the highest.

According to research at Oxford University and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine 58% of black people 70 and over had received the first dose by February 11 in comparison to 88% of White people.

The Mayor suggested he was not in favour of vaccine passports for domestic purposes because they could be seen to be discriminatory to some. He said that vulnerable individuals who may require support and forget to take their passport out with them may then be refused a service despite being vaccinated.

Husbands backed Glanville: ‘Vaccine passports would create a false sense of reassurance. We shouldn’t be thinking of being vaccinated as a license to do things’.

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