Revealed: Adult vaccination rates are lower in some areas of Norfolk

Doreen Johnson

Doreen Jackson, 91, has decided not to accept the offer of a Covid vaccine - Credit: Sarah Burgess

Coronavirus has already disproportionately affected the poorest communities in Norfolk and Waveney, and now vaccine data shows fewer people in our most deprived neighbourhoods are getting their jabs. Sam Ferguson and Sarah Burgess report.

The rate of adults getting their first Covid vaccination in some well off parts of Norfolk and Waveney is much higher than that seen in poorer neighbourhoods, sparking fears of a post-code lottery.

In all, just over 40pc of adults over the age of 16 have had their first jab - the fourth best rate in the country.

That equates to 341,600 of people, including 100pc of people aged 75-79, 96pc of people aged 80 or over and 94pc of people aged 70-75.

The NHS has also released data on the number of vaccines by MSOA neighbourhood – areas of roughly 8,000 people. In 14 of these local areas, 50pc or more of the adult population has now received their first dose of Coronavirus vaccine.

But, despite the good news, our analysis of the data has revealed a stark disparity in the rate of adult vaccinations in deprived and affluent areas.

On average, 10pc fewer adults have had their first Covid dose in the most deprived parts of Norfolk and Waveney, when compared to richer areas.

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In the poorest neighbourhoods, including Yarmouth Parade, North Lynn and the City Centre West area of Norwich, the average percentage of adults who have had their first vaccine dose is 30pc.

But in the richest areas of the county, including Sheringham in North Norfolk and Eaton in Norwich, the average is 40pc.

The area with the lowest rate is Yarmouth Parade, among the poorest in the county. There, 23pc of all adults over the age of 16 have had at least one dose of the vaccine.

But in Heacham & Snettisham in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk, ranked in the most affluent half of the IMD, the first dose vaccination rate is 54pc – almost twice as high.

As previously reported, more deprived areas have already been disproportionately affected by virus case numbers.

In Yarmouth Central and Northgate, ranked in the poorest 20pc of neighbourhoods in the county, 26pc of adults have had their first dose.

Josie and Barry Fitzgerald, from Great Yarmouth, say their surgery has been "brilliant" throughout l

Josie Fitzgerald said she was only given a vaccine because a doctor came to offer her husband one by mistake - Credit: Archant

Josie Fitzgerald, 67, lives in Northgate, and is an insulin-dependent diabetic. She said she had only had her vaccine because the doctor came to give it to her husband, who had already received it.

“It's been very confusing,” said Ms Fitzgerald.

"I've got friends in Gorleston who are also in their 60s with underlying conditions who have not had it yet.

"There aren't any mass vaccination centres near us, so our options to get it locally are limited unless we travel.”

Mike Smith-Clare, Labour county councillor for Central and Northgate blamed a lack of trust in some communities.

Mike Smith-Clare, Labour county councillor. Pic: Labour Party.

Mike Smith-Clare, Labour county councillor for Central and Northgate - Credit: Labour Party

"We have to rebuild it by listening to their concerns and working with them to improve communication and ultimately, the crippling poverty that has created their isolation," he added.

Great Yarmouth Conservative MP Brandon Lewis said it was important that as many residents as possible accepted the vaccine, and added the rollout was targeting older populations first, which he said could explain the differing percentage points.

Brandon Lewis is currently self-isolating after contact with a positive coronavirus case. PHOTO: UK

Brandon Lewis is currently self-isolating after contact with a positive coronavirus case. PHOTO: UK Parliament - Credit: Archant

But Doreen Johnson, 91, who has cancer and lives in Cobholm in Yarmouth, which is also in the poorest 20pc of areas in the county, said she had personally chosen not to have the vaccine.

"I have always had a needle phobia, but there's also the fact that at my age I didn't really see any point,” she added.

Doreen Johnson

Doreen Jackson, 91, has decided not to accept the offer of a Covid vaccine - Credit: Sarah Burgess

“I've got my tablets from my doctor and that's about as much as I can manage.”

A spokesman for Norfolk Healthwatch said the inconsistency was a “cause for concern”, and Norfolk and Waveney CCG lead for addressing inequalities Tracy Williams said the organisation was working hard to make sure communities have fair access to the vaccine.

Emma Corlett is the Labour county councillor for Town Close in Norwich, a ward which covers some of the most deprived areas in the city.

Emma Corlett, Labour PCC for North Norfolk. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Emma Corlett, Norfolk County Council Labour councillor for Town Close - Credit: Archant

She said a key issue was access to appointments.

“People in deprived areas face greater barriers in terms of being able to get an appointment,” she said.

“For example, the digitally deprived will definitely be less able to access appointments.

“Being able to physically get to an appointment can be an issue for lots of people, especially if they are isolated. 

“Once the data is clearer, I would hope an outreach programme would kick in to reach those who have missed out.”

South Norwich MP Clive Lewis called for the vaccination rollout to be taken out into the community rather than relying on mass vaccination centres and remote hubs.

South Norwich Labour MP Clive Lewis Photo: UK Parliament

South Norwich Labour MP Clive Lewis Photo: UK Parliament - Credit: UK Parliament

"This is an awful triple whammy for some of the most disadvantaged people in our city," he said.

"They're most at risk from the virus and also least likely to get vaccinated. And there's also evidence that, nationally, the most impoverished neighbourhoods have the highest infection rates.”

He added: “Prioritising poorer communities for vaccination and better financial support to self-isolate would help now for sure. But in the long-run, we need a proper plan to deal with the structural factors that continually condemn so many of our most disadvantaged fellow citizens to perpetual poor health."

There are currently 31 locations where people can get vaccinations in Norfolk and Waveney, including the Norfolk and Norwich, Queen Elizabeth and James Paget hospitals, six large vaccination centres, one pharmacist and 21 GP surgeries.

In January concerns were raised over a lack of vaccine centres in south Norfolk and Waveney, with some people having to drive 45 minutes to their nearest centre.

Other reports have also been made of people being redirected as far as Brighton for a jab.

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