Mapped: The neighbourhoods with the highest and lowest Covid vaccination rates
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
The postcode areas with the highest and lowest Covid vaccination rates in Suffolk and north Essex have been revealed by the NHS for the first time.
Figures published on Thursday show the proportion of those vaccinated with first doses as of February 21 in neighbourhood areas known as MSOAs, made up of around 8,200 people.
The numbers reveal that the Suffolk and north east Essex area is faring better than most of the country for administering first jabs to over-16s, and is in the national top three.
But pockets of low vaccine coverage have emerged in urban areas, particularly in the under-70s.
Vast swathes of Ipswich and Colchester have lower levels of vaccination in those eligible for the jab - people aged 16 and over - compared with rural Suffolk and seaside towns such as Felixstowe and Aldeburgh.
Urban areas typically have younger populations yet to receive vaccinations, which could account for the lower percentages.
Yet inner towns are also likely to have greater numbers of deprived neighbourhoods, within which take-up has been lower on a national scale.
Westgate in Ipswich and Greenstead in Colchester, which both have a high deprivation index, recorded the lowest levels of vaccination in those eligible as of February 21. In Westgate, 22.4% of those aged over 16 and 16.9% of under-70s had received their first jab, with 18.8% of over-16s and 12.6% of under-70s vaccinated in Greenstead.
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Vaccination in older people in these areas was also lower than average, with 72.5% of over-80s jabbed in Westgate compared with more than 90% elsewhere.
Westgate also has a more ethnically diverse community, where vaccine hesitancy has been identified as being much higher nationwide, with jabs minister Nadhim Zahawi revealing earlier in February he was "very concerned" by low take-up in BAME groups.
The lower levels of vaccination in some areas of Ipswich compare with 52.4% of over-16s jabbed on the other side of town, in the more affluent Broke Hall area.
The neighbourhood includes the main hospital site and has also seen the highest number of under-70s vaccinated in the town at 37%.
Felixstowe recorded the highest percentage of adults vaccinated in the entire region with 62.2% having their first dose.
Low take-up could create 'reservoir of Covid' where new strains mutate - MP
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter noted there may be issues with take-up in some parts of his constituency, such as Whitehouse.
He called for a "targeted and vigorous" campaign to reach out to communities declining the vaccine and noted that full protection will not be achieved until everyone has their second jab.
"We only need 20-25% of the population not to be vaccinated to have a situation where there is potentially a reservoir of Covid still in the population which promotes the likelihood of new strains and mutations which and put us back in terms of vaccinations that are available," he said.
The MP, who is also an NHS doctor and sits on the cross-party Covid group, also warned of the dangers of anti-vaxxers spreading disinformation in younger populations.
He added: "Unfortunately, it's also more likely younger people who typically live in urban areas are also going to come into contact with false science and quite frankly dangerous lies that the anti-vaccination movement is putting out on social media."
Most areas have jabbed 100% of over-80s
With many now given dates for second jabs the vaccination programme is continuing in earnest, and the Suffolk and north east Essex area has now surpassed Norfolk and Waveney to be ranked in the top three in the country for vaccinating its eligible population with a first dose.
The map above shows us that most neighbourhoods in the region have now vaccinated all over-80s with their first jab, the most vulnerable group and most likely to die or be hospitalised with Covid-19. Around 5,000 have had their second.
Suffolk, Norfolk, and north Essex are a sea of deep reds on the map indicating high vaccination coverage in all adults - compared to some areas of the country, such as London, which is almost entirely a light yellow colour, suggesting lower jabs coverage.
Vaccination will continue to be a focus of the pandemic as the Government weighs up lifting lockdown with its four key tests to freedom.
All adults should be offered a dose by July 31, the PM said on Saturday.