Suffolk number one nationally for Covid vaccine deployment - but second doses will be focus for April

Doctore Parikh with the Pfizer vaccine Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Suffolk was the top nationally for percentage of cohorts one-nine vaccinated as of March 25 - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Suffolk currently has the highest rate of Covid-19 vaccinations anywhere in the UK, a meeting of health and council leaders has heard.

Friday's Local Outbreak Engagement Board meeting heard that more than half a million people in the county have now had a jab, with 60% of the population of Suffolk and North East Essex (SNEE) having had a first dose. That makes it the top in the UK as of March 25 for vaccinating the top nine priority groups - over 50s, care home residents and those most at risk. 

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, MP for West Suffolk which includes Haverhill, said he was "concerned"

Health secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock praised the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in the county - Credit: PA

In Norfolk and Waveney, 61% of adults have received a first dose compared to the 52% England average.

Health secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock said Suffolk's vaccination efforts had been "one of the best, if not the best, across the whole of the UK."

Board chairman and Suffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks said it was "an amazing position to be in, that we have got Norfolk and Waveney and SNEE battling between first, second and third nationally".

Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council Leader, said the scheme demonstrated the willingness of people in the county to help...

Suffolk County Council leader Matthew Hicks

However, following the government's confirmation that there will be fewer doses available nationally over the next four weeks, health leaders have confirmed that the focus will be on second doses through April.

Richard Watson, deputy chief executive of Suffolk and North East Essex clinical commissioning groups, said: "We are in first place nationally as of yesterday now for cohorts one-to-nine in terms of the percentage overall we have vaccinated. We have done half a million first doses across Suffolk and North East Essex and around 60% of our population has now had a first vaccine.

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"We are in a really strong position vis a vis other parts of the country in terms of our rollout.

Richard Watson, deputy chief executive for the three CCGs said he was pleased to see the year-on-yea

Richard Watson from Suffolk and North East Essex CCGs - Credit: IESCCG

"There will be a slowdown in first vaccinations over April [as a result of national supply issues] and we will be focusing our energy on second doses, of which we have done just over 34,000 as of yesterday [Thursday]."

First dose vaccines for care home carers was also now up to 87% compared to 73% in February.

Elsewhere, work is continuing with harder to reach communities and those more likely to be reticent for a vaccine, while the vaccination bus is also helping bring Covid jabs to people.