Just 20% of children aged 12-15 have had their first Covid vaccine in parts of London as Labour calls for No10 to ‘turbocharge’ programme
- NHS England figures reveal uptake for 12 to 15-year-olds is trailing in Hackney where 19.8 per cent are jabbed
- For comparison in more affluent Fareham, Hampshire, 67 per cent have already got their first dose
- The NHS is rolling out the Covid vaccine to children through the schools’ vaccination service and clinics
- But shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson today called for more pop-up clinics to be opened
Fewer than a fifth of children in parts of London have already had their first Covid vaccine, according to official figures.
The entire programme has been beset by delays and cancellations, with critics arguing the decision to only let youngsters originally get jabbed in schools hampered the drive.
Up-to-date NHS statistics have prompted Labour to call on No10 to ‘turbocharge’ the campaign for younger age groups.
Uptake for 12 to 15-year-olds is lowest in Hackney, where only 19.8 per cent have had their first jab. All of the worst five performing areas are in the capital.
For comparison, rates are three times higher in more affluent parts of the country. In Fareham, Hampshire, 67 per cent of children are jabbed while in South Oxfordshire the rate is 64.3 per cent, and in the New Forest, also in Hampshire, it is 64.1 per cent.
Shadow Education Secretary Bridget Phillipson, who was promoted to Labour’s frontbench last week, today urged ministers to open more walk-in clinics so children can get their jabs. Nationwide, six in ten are yet to get their first dose.
It comes after Britain’s vaccine advisers recommended the age group should be offered their second dose from 12 weeks after their first, amid fears of an impending Omicron wave.
Ministers originally paused on plans to offer top-up jabs to youngsters because of their risk of myocarditis, a rare heart complication linked to Pfizer’s second dose, and their vanishingly small risk of falling seriously ill if they got infected.
In the hopes of dampening down concerns about the side effect, however, a new study today showed myocarditis cases in under-21s are mild and are quickly resolved. But Government advisers have warned the long-term effects remain a mystery, even if the illness appears to be mild.
The above map shows the proportion of children aged 12 to 15 years old that have received one dose of the Covid vaccine by local authority in England. Children in the age group are being offered two doses of the Pfizer jab through the schools vaccination service and NHS clinics
The above figures show the proportion of 12 to 15-year-olds that were single vaccinated in England since late September. It reveals that almost six in ten are still to get their first dose
The NHS is rolling out jabs to Britain’s nearly 3million 12 to 15-year-olds mostly through school clinics, with parents asked to consent to the inoculation.
Children’s parents can also book appointments online to attend local jab centres, and can go to walk-in clinics. But only certain ones which have a paediatrician on site are offering vaccinations to the age group.
NHS England figures dated up to November 30, the latest available, showed 43 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds have got their first dose so far.
The lowest uptake rates were in Hackney, Barking and Dagenham (20.5 per cent), Waltham Forest (20.9 per cent), Enfield and Newham (both 22.5 per cent).
Under-21s who suffer a rare heart complication after Covid vaccination recover quickly and only face a mild illness, a study has found.
University of Utah researchers examined 139 cases of myocarditis or pericarditis from 26 paediatric centres in the US and Canada.
They found patients were hospitalised for two days on average.
Symptoms included chest pain (99.3 per cent of patients suffered), fever (30.9 per cent) and shortness of breath (27.3 per cent).
No deaths from the condition were recorded.
The scientists also found 26 patients were admitted to intensive care (18 per cent of the total).
Out of the cases, 131 happened up to 30 days after a patient received the Pfizer jab, and five after the Moderna vaccine.
One case was recorded following the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, although this is not a known side-effect of the jab, and two could not be matched to a vaccine.
There were 12 cases after a first dose, and 128 after a second inoculation.
Professor Donald Lloyd-Jones, from the American Heart Association and who was not involved in the study, said: ‘These data suggest that most cases of suspected Covid vaccine-related myocarditis in people younger than 21 are mild and resolve quickly.’
In the UK two doses of the Pfizer Covid vaccine are being offered to 12 to 15-year-olds with a gap of 12 weeks between inoculations. In England 40 per cent have been inoculated so far.
For comparison, the US is also offering the age group two doses of the Covid jab with a gap of three weeks. The country has 6.6 per cent of 12 to 17-year-olds inoculated.
Ms Phillipson accused the Government of being ‘complacent’ and claimed children were ‘paying the price’ of the sluggish inoculation drive.
She said: ‘The Government must get a grip and stop neglecting children’s education.
‘Labour has been urging ministers to use every measure from pop-up and walk-in clinics to bringing back volunteers and retired clinicians to ramp-up [the] vaccine roll out.
‘This must come alongside finally introducing the ventilation in schools that SAGE recommended well over a year ago.’
She said that to ‘turbocharge’ the roll out pharmacies and walk-in and pop-up clinics should be told they can also offer jabs to children.
The Department of Health said the vaccination programme in England has been a ‘phenomenal success’. It argued children can get jabs at school and through local clinics.
From mid-September, 12 to 15-year-olds were told they could get one dose of the Pfizer Covid vaccine to protect them against the virus.
But official figures show the drive now appears to be levelling off with six in ten children still yet to be jabbed in England.
For comparison, in Scotland 60 per cent of 12 to 15-year-olds have got their first dose already. Children in the country were able to book appointments online when their roll out began.
Children face a tiny risk of serious illness or death if they catch Covid, while the jabs are associated with rare cases of myocarditis or pericarditis — another heart complication — in young people.
The JCVI said that under-16s with severe conditions have a one in 10,000 chance of falling seriously ill with Covid compared to the one in 500,000 risk for healthy children.
It means the balance was in favour of jabbing youngsters with underlying illnesses such as Down’s Syndrome, but it left the move controversial for healthy kids.
The complication is most common among young boys given a second dose of Pfizer’s jab, but the condition normally clears up on its own.
There have been 791 cases recorded in the UK to date, out of more than 45.3million Pfizer doses dished out.
Ministers are also under pressure to ramp up the booster vaccination drive after Boris Johnson set a target of offering all over-18s their third dose by the end of January.
It was also revealed today that up to 300,000 housebound people, who are more vulnerable to the virus, have yet to receive their Covid booster jab.
According to unpublished Whitehall figures, seen by The Daily Telegraph, only 170,000 housebound people had been given top-up jabs at the end of last week.
This is around 36 per cent of an estimated toll of 470,000. However, some estimates have placed the total number of housebound in England at closer to a million.
Ministers announced plans to offer GPs £30 per house visit as an incentive to encourage them to offer boosters to some of those most at risk from the virus as concern grows about the slow booster rollout.
Where have the most 12 to 15-year-olds got their first Covid jab?
Vale of White Horse
% single jabbed
Source: NHS England
Where have the least 12 to 15-year-olds got their first Covid jab?
Barking and Dagenham
% single jabbed
Source: NHS England
Health Secretary Sajid Javid also announced GPs would be free from making some routine health checks to allow them time to help with the booster rollout.
But it is understood many of those who helped administer first and second vaccine jabs have opted out of home visits to deliver boosters, citing the lack of time and staff.
In areas including Kent, London and Cambridgeshire responsibility for visiting housebound people has been given to local NHS clinical commissioning groups or pharmacy firms.
Caroline Abrahams, the charity director at Age UK, said: ‘The general clunkiness which has affected the booster rollout seems to have resulted in some housebound older people still waiting for a nurse to provide them with their booster jab.
‘This would have been worrying in any situation, but is all the more so now because of the potential threat from the new omicron variant.
Last week the JCVI — Britain’s vaccine watchdog — dramatically expanded the inoculation drive to offer 39 to 18-year-olds a third dose amid mounting concern that the country could face a fourth Omicron wave.
Estimates show, however, that if the drive continues at the current pace of 378,000 inoculations a day then everyone will not be offered a top up until February.
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