Suffolk in top 5 nationally as 1 in 4 adults get Covid jab

A member of the medical team administers a Covid-19 vaccine injection at the NHS vaccination centre

Suffolk has seen a few teething issues during the coronavirus vaccine rollout, but the system remains on track - Credit: Leon Neal/PA

The life-saving Covid vaccine has gone into the arms of more than a quarter of adults in Suffolk and north east Essex, NHS data has revealed.

Figures out on Thursday reveal that more than one in four (27%) of those aged 16 and over had received at least one dose of the coronavirus jab in our area as of Sunday, February 7. 

This puts it in the top five areas in the country, with only Norfolk and Waveney scoring slightly higher (29%) in the east of England. 

In total, 225,999 jabs have been administered – of those 219,457 were first doses and 6,542 were second inoculations. 

The lion’s share of the jabs has gone into the arms of those aged 70 and over – with more than 85% of this cohort receiving their first dose of the vaccine. The percentage rises even higher when it comes to the over-80s, with 92% receiving the initial dose. 

More than 78,000 people under 70, including NHS and care workers, have also received their first dose - that is around 12% of the younger cohort.

It marks a mammoth effort by vaccine volunteers to turn around initial delays to the Suffolk and north east Essex rollout.  

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When the first local vaccination figures emerged in mid-January, they showed that our area was lagging behind the rest of the country.  

However, it has since emerged that some jab sites were missed from the first batch of data and in recent weeks there has been a rapid improvement.

Since heavy snow forced the closure of some vaccination centres earlier this week, the programme has continued in earnest with invitations continuing to be sent out to those in priority groups. 

Andy Yacoub, of Healthwatch Suffolk, welcomed the latest vaccine numbers but stressed that vaccination does not equal complete safety immediately.

"The message about living in a safe way is absolutely essential," he said. 

"We are still way off the numbers we experienced last August and so we need to remain vigilant and that's the best way to support our hard-pressed NHS, social care, and key workers.

"We know there are some who are still waiting and are worried, we would encourage them and their families to call 119 to book jabs for the over-70s (as announced by Matt Hancock last week) to check what is happening.

Public meeting at the John Peel Centre, Stowmarket, over NHS challenges. Pictured is Andy Yacoub (CE

Andy Yacoub, chief executive of Healthwatch Suffolk - Credit: Gregg Brown

He added: "We are also concerned about the unknown numbers who feel they can either live on without the vaccine or refuse to have it."

The government aims to have everyone in the top four cohorts vaccinated with a first dose by mid-February. 

That includes all over 70s, all adults classed as "clinically extremely vulnerable" and all frontline health and care staff.  

More than 13 million people have now been vaccinated, putting it on track to meet that target. 

It takes up to three weeks for the vaccine to give people protection, meaning there is a delay before it starts impacting hospital admissions and case numbers.