'London is lagging behind – protect yourself and others from Covid'

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup during a visit to a vaccine centre at Croydon Centrale

Vaccines minister Maggie Throup during a visit to a vaccine centre at Croydon Centrale - Credit: DHSC

Since we made the decision to expand the booster programme, NHS staff and volunteers in London have undoubtedly risen to the challenge.

This month I visited a vaccination centre in Centrale shopping centre in Croydon and was blown away by the professionalism, efficiency and kindness of the staff and volunteers. Members of the public popped in for their Covid-19 booster during their shopping, showing how easy it can be to get a booster.

It is not only convenient but also rewarding. A booster jab provides around 70% protection against symptomatic infection from Omicron and has been shown to be 88% effective in preventing hospitalisation from Covid-19 two weeks after it is administered. Everyone over the age of 16 is eligible for a booster, as well as children aged 12-15 who are clinically vulnerable or live with somebody who has a weakened immune system. If you’re not sure if you are eligible, visit the NHS website on eligibility or ask your GP.

While my visit to the vaccine centre Croydon was encouraging to see different groups coming forward for their lifesaving jab, I know that London still has a long way to go. Just 21.5% of 18-24 year olds in London have been boosted, compared to 30.1% of 18-24 year olds in England, and 42.3% of 40-44 year olds compared to 53.7% in England. 

In Islington, Haringey and Camden, only 42% of people have had their booster jab, in Brent and Hackney and the City of London, the figure is as low as 39% , putting them in the bottom 10 local authorities for uptake.

London also has the lowest uptake of first and second jabs. For example only 57% of 30-34 year olds have had two doses, compared to 64% in England. Unvaccinated people are eight times more likely to be hospitalised with Covid-19 so it is vital you take up the offer of a vaccine to protect yourself and your loved ones.

There are many reasons why people haven’t had the vaccine and I appreciate people may still have questions. Whether you choose to get your vaccine at the Westfield shopping centre in Stratford or your local community pharmacy, the NHS is there to answer your questions without judgement and provide all the correct information. It is never too late to take up the offer of a Covid-19 vaccine and the NHS will be ready to help you.

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We have just announced over £10.9 million for London councils for Community Vaccine Champions to identify barriers and provide tailored support and advice to help people get vaccinated. London’s community leaders are doing an excellent job in supporting their peers get vaccinated and I cannot thank them enough for what they are doing.

If you have questions, I urge you to talk to an NHS professional or a Community Vaccine Champion – they have the correct information and can talk you through any concerns.

Getting vaccinated against Covid-19 is the best way to protect yourself, so don’t delay, take up the offer of a vaccine and make sure you get both doses. For those who have had two doses, I urge you to bolster your protection and get boosted now.

Maggie Throup (Con) is minister for vaccines and public health.

Maggie Throup, minister for vaccines and public health

Maggie Throup, minister for vaccines and public health - Credit: PA