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Drive to push up below-average Covid-19 vaccination rates in Cambridge

Another push to persuade those in Cambridge who have yet to get their Covid-19 vaccines to turn up for jabs has been made by health chiefs.

It comes after the NHS passed the milestone of having administered more than 300,000 vaccinations in the city since the programme began at the end of 2020. But Cambridge is lagging well behind average uptake figures.

A Covid-19 vaccination
A Covid-19 vaccination

Only 68.9 per cent of over-12s in the city have had their first dose – well below the 82.2 per cent across the whole county and 83.5 per cent in the Eastern region.

Nationally, it is reported that 91.6 per cent of over-12s have a first dose, although this percentage is based on a different population estimate than those used for local areas, so may not be directly comparable,

Fewer than two-thirds of over-12s (63.9 per cent) in Cambridge have had a second dose, compared to 78.1 per cent across Cambridgeshire and 79.1 in the East of England region. And just 50.8 per cent of over-12s have had a booster or third dose in Cambridge, compared to 64.5 per cent countywide and 63.3 per cent nationwide. Everyone over 18 is eligible for a booster.

Although there is always a degree of uncertainty over the population estimates used to measure these percentages, particularly with Cambridge’s highly transient population, the figures could explain why the city has in recent weeks and months had among the highest Covid-19 infection rates in the country.

The vaccination numbers are ticking up slowly, with 142 people coming forward in the city for a first dose between March 1 and 9 - an average of 15-16 per day - as efforts to overcome vaccine hesitancy and counter inaccurate anti-vax messages continue.

As expected, the numbers are higher for subsequent doses, with 221 second doses administered in Cambridge over the nine days (24.5 a day) and 443 boosters or third doses (49.2 a day).

But there remains much to do to ensure people - especially younger age groups - get all their doses, with less than two-fifths (40 per cent) of those aged 25-34 having had their booster in Cambridge, as of March 9.

There is concern the lifting of restrictions may have led to some complacency. And there are signs nationally that infection rates are growing in those aged over 55 as their immunity wanes.

Dr Gary Howsam, chair of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We have now delivered over 300,000 doses of the vaccination in Cambridge.

“Whilst it is right that we recognise this milestone, we know there’s still people in Cambridge who have not accepted the offer of the life-saving jab. We’ve made it easier than ever to get your Covid-19 vaccination, so if you haven’t yet had yours please don’t delay– get your vaccine now.”

Covid vaccinations not only reduce the risk of hospitalisation and death, they cut your chances of developing long Covid. Walk-in clinics can be found at thevaccinators.co.uk or book online via nhs.uk/covidvaccine, or by calling 119.

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