Number of over-80s given first Covid jab doubles in a week

The syringe is filled with the Covid-19 vaccine at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Pict

The latest number of Covid vaccines administered in Suffolk and north east Essex has been revealed by the NHS - Credit: Denise Bradley

Two-thirds of over-80s in Suffolk and north Essex have now received their first Covid vaccine – with the number of first doses administered almost doubling in a week. 

It comes after our region was revealed to be lagging behind the rest of the country last week with just 36% of our elderly population inoculated with their first dose. 

NHS data published on Thursday reveals the Suffolk and north east Essex area gave out 114,011 vaccines between December 8, 2020 and January 24, 2021. 

Of those, 43,945 jabs were administered to people aged over 80, meaning that 71% have now had their first dose, compared to a national average of 80%. Meanwhile, 4,834 have received their second. 

That is a significant jump on last week’s figure of 22,265, which meant just 36% had been given their first dose, the lowest in England. 

Despite the mammoth effort, out of the 42 NHS areas, our region is still sixth from the bottom this week for the percentage of over-80s vaccinated. 

Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter said it was clear the area had taken a “big step forward” in the past week, but warned: “We are still some way behind other parts of the country, some areas have up to 90% coverage." 

He also said it was an “unusual decision” to appoint the Essex Partnership University Trust - a mental health provider - to run the mass vaccination centres. 

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Dr Poulter described such trusts as being "unaccustomed" to overseeing inoculation programmes of this magnitude, adding that he feels some of the earlier delays may have been linked to this. 

Dr Dan Poulter MP welcomed NHS investment in the Spending Review. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Dr Dan Poulter MP has urged Suffolk residents to get their vaccination done as soon as it is available to them - Credit: Archant

NHS chiefs said EPUT has taken charge of the bigger centres such as the newly opened Gainsborough Sports Centre in Ipswich and is not overseeing the full rollout. 

The trust has previously overseen vaccination programmes in schools, they added. 

Dr Poulter also warned people to remain vigilant to the virus and added: “Just because you’ve had your first vaccination doesn’t mean you can take your foot off the gas, this is a disease that’s very deadly, and one dose is not the full treatment dose.” 

Vaccine administration at Constable Country Medical centre Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Vaccine administration at Constable Country Medical Centre in East Bergholt Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Andy Yacoub, of Healthwatch Suffolk, said the improvement in over-80s coverage was “most welcome” - but said he had been told not all of the Suffolk sites and their data had been included in last week's official NHS figures. 

“I hear that the figure is now around 75% for over-80s and rising fast, so that is good news,” he added. 

“Anyone still waiting should expect to be invited very soon now, if not imminently.” 

Health Watch Suffolk CEO Andy Yacoub. Picture GREGG BROWN

Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk - Credit: Archant

There are approximately 984,184 people living in the Suffolk and north east Essex integrated care system (ICS), which incorporates Suffolk, Colchester and Tendring, according to latest population estimates.  

At the moment NHS and care staff, over-80s, over-70s and the clinically vulnerable are being prioritised for the life-saving jab. 

In terms of the under-80s, which includes NHS and care staff, 63,994 first doses have been handed out in the region, compared with 1,238 second doses. 

It means 8.6% of under-80s have received their first jab and 0.2% have been given their second.  

Those figures are up from last week’s figures of 3.4% and 0.1% respectively. 

On Tuesday, Suffolk's first mass vaccination site opened at Gainsborough Sports Centre in Ipswich.  

It was one of 30 to open nationwide and among the first to be established in the east of England. 

Aimed at vaccinating thousands of people each week, the centre is offering jabs to people aged 70 and over – on top of those in other priority groups, such as care staff. 

It is operating alongside hubs at Ipswich and West Suffolk hospitals, and GP-led centres. 

Here, we explain why some people aged over 70 are receiving their jab before those over 80. 

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