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Why is London behind in the Covid vaccine roll out?

Nearly 40% of people in the South West have received the vaccine already (Picture: Getty Images)

New figures show London is trailing the rest of the country in vaccinating residents against coronavirus.

An analysis of official NHS England statistics shows all six regions outside the capital have vaccinated at least 30% of their populations. In London, the figure has just tipped over a quarter (25.3%).

So it is a case of a vaccine postcode lottery, or are there specific factors at play?

The first four groups of people who received the vaccine included care home residents and carers; people aged 70 and over; frontline health workers and ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ individuals.

While London accounts for 16% of people in England, it has a younger demographic and only makes up 12.3% of people in the UK in these priority groups.

Londoners also tend to have weaker ‘roots’. The capital has a highly mobile population, with 10% of people leaving or entering each year. This might make it more difficult to make sure people receive their letter inviting them to get vaccinated.

Another factor at play is London’s multicultural make-up. More than 300 languages are spoken in London and it is home to eight of the 10 most diverse local authorities in the country. Vaccine take-up has been shown to be considerably lower among minority ethnic groups.

Office for National Statistics data, up to February 2021, showed less than half (49%) of black or black British adults said they were likely to take the jab.

A health worker prepares the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine (Picture: Getty)

A health worker prepares the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine (Picture: Getty Images)

This reluctance has resulted in lower uptake. By late February, analysts OpenSAFELY found about 60% of black people aged 70 or over had been vaccinated, compared to 75% of South Asians and 90% of white people.

The Government wants every eligible person to take up the offer of a free Covid vaccine, no matter their ethnicity or religious beliefs.

Nadhim Zahawi, minister for Covid vaccine deployment, said: ‘Vaccines are the best way to protect people from coronavirus and will save thousands of lives.

‘Over 20 million people are already benefiting from the first dose of this life-saving jab and we want to encourage everyone to accept the vaccine when it’s their turn.’

Latest NHS figures up to Sunday, March 7 showed that 25.3% of London’s near 9 million residents had been vaccinated.

This compares with 33.1% of people in the South East, 33.6% in the North West, 34.1% in the Midlands, 35.6% in the North East and Yorkshire, 35.7% in the East and 38.5% in the South West.

Nonetheless, health chiefs are happy with how London’s rollout is going and praised the ‘fantastic’ staff and volunteers.

Dr Vin Diwakar, medical director for London, said: ‘Thanks to the fantastic efforts of hard-working NHS staff and volunteers, the biggest and fastest vaccination programme in NHS history has already vaccinated more than 20 million people across the UK and more than 2.1 million people in London.

‘We are continuing to reach out to eligible groups, working with local authorities, care homes, faith and community groups and others to encourage uptake of the safe, effective vaccines which will help save lives.’

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