Peterborough’s vaccine take up rate remains far below UK rate - but no explanations have been given for low numbers

Peterborough’s vaccine take up rate remains far below the UK rate - but authorities have not given an explanation as to why the city lags behind most of the country.

By Stephen Briggs
Friday, 4th June 2021, 10:08 am

Yesterday the UK marked a significant milestone as it was revealed more than half of adults in the UK have now had both doses of the vaccine, while on Wednesday it was announced three quarters of UK adults have had at least one vaccine.

The figures for the UK now stand at 75.5 per cent of adults have had one dose, while 50.2 per cent have had both doses - with the figures almost identical for England.

However, the Peterborough figures are much lower, with just 56.1 per cent having had the first dose, and 36 per cent having had both doses.

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Out of 347 local authorities, Peterborough sits 316th for take up rates of the first dose, and 311th for second dose take up.

However, during the second wave - when vaccines became available - Peterborough spent much of the time in the top 20 for case rates in the country, and was in the top 10 for the highest case rates on a number of occasions. The city only dipped below the UK average for the first time since the start of the second wave last weekend.

The Government figures show that by June 2, 105,801 people in Peterborough have had their first dose, and 67,963 have had their second dose.

Along with a low take up rate, The Peterborough Telegraph has had a number of reports from readers suggesting it is difficult to get appointments for the jab in the city itself, with people being told to travel as far as Grantham, Cambridge and Northampton to get the vaccine.

The Peterborough Telegraph approached The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG, Peterborough City Council and NHS England for an explanation on why the take up rate in Peterborough was so low, compared with much of the rest of the country - if there had been a supply problem with getting the vaccines in the area, for example - and why residents were finding it difficult to get an appointment.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Vaccines are our way out of this pandemic – they’re safe, effective and already saving thousands of lives. We continue to work with the NHS, local government, community and faith groups to ensure no-one is left behind.

“We are building public confidence in the approved vaccines every day with a range of initiatives to remove barriers to getting a jab, from the Vaccine Uptake Plan to multicultural media campaigns and multilingual communications to provide advice and information about vaccines.”

A spokesperson for NHS England said that while responsibility for appointments fell to them, appointments were made in line with supply - the responsibility of the DHSC.

They added: “If the vaccination clinic locations available via the national booking system website are not close to where people live, we encourage them to keep checking back until something more local becomes available. New appointments are regularly added to the system so it’s worth people checking back often.”

Emmeline Watkins, Acting Director of Public Health for Peterborough, said: “Whilst it is encouraging that rates of Covid-19 have declined over the last few weeks in Peterborough it is really important that this continues. So we would continue to urge residents to remain vigilant and follow the national Covid-19 guidelines around social distancing, wearing face coverings when required and regular hand washing.

“We would also encourage residents to take a rapid test twice a week and accept their vaccine appointment when offered. By doing all of these things, we can all help to get back to a more normal way of life.”

Last week a spokesperson for the CCG said: “The COVID-19 vaccination programme continues to be delivered successfully in our area, with more people booking their vaccine every day. The COVID-19 vaccination is our best protection against the virus, so we are working closely with local partners and community leaders to ensure that everyone is confident to take up the vaccine when they are invited to have theirs.”

The figures, published on the Government COVID dashboard, differ slightly from the NHS England figures released every Thursday, in that the Government figures count everyone aged 18 and over - with NHS England counting everyone aged 16 and over.