Data shows Yarmouth among least vaccinated areas of UK
- Credit: Danielle Booden
As the government ramps up the Covid-19 booster roll-out Great Yarmouth is falling behind the rest of the country with one of the lowest uptakes.
New data shows 31,931 of eligible adults in the area have had their third dose, putting it among the bottom 50 local authority areas with a ranking of 262 out of 315.
When it comes to the number of 12-15 year olds who had had their first dose by December 5, Yarmouth is the only area in Norfolk below the national average, with 42pc having the jab.
Carl Smith, leader of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, said officials were aware that uptake was lower than in some other parts of the country and that efforts were being redoubled to improve the situation.
Some of the issues lay with a lack of qualified staff to administer the vaccines leading to the sporadic closure of the Market Gates vaccination centre.
Adding to the problem was the actions of a man jailed last week for gluing up the lock of a centre in Gorleston preventing over 500 people from having their jabs.
In terms of "hard to reach" communities where English was not the first language spoken the council was proactively visiting shops and issuing posters and promotional material pushing the vaccine message in multiple languages.
On the plus side he said a walk-in clinic in Market Gates on Saturday at 9am saw long queues proving there was an appetite for the jab when it was available.
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Having just had Covid himself he had had to wait a further month from his invite to receive the third dose, with many others likely in the same boat.
Anecdotally, people were sometimes struggling to book a slot near in their area and were being offered Diss, Harleston, Holt, and Drayton.
Mr Smith's advice was to "keep trying" as the slots were issued in blocks.
"We have seen issues with places glued up. The big problem is with staff and Market Gates has had to shut a few times. We are proactive with all our communities and targeting areas where uptake is low.
"Hopefully we are going to see it go up. The message is it could save your life. The one thing you want for Christmas is your jab."
Market Gates is open but operating at weekends only – more than 1,300 people had their vaccines there last weekend.
Diana Staines, chief executive of Centre 81, said everyone had a collective as well as personal responsibility to get the jab.
All but one of her 41 staff had received all the vaccinations offered and members were all keen to get their jabs as soon as they could.
Although staff and members had tested positive during the pandemic none had so far contracted the virus at the Tarworks Road centre where strict regimes and rules on social distancing, mask wearing, and bubbles are adhered to.
"We all need to do what we can individually and collectively," she said.
"Having parties and being able to sing at the top of our voices is a huge incentive. Let's do what we can to get to that."
Bookings for boosters for eligible groups at both Market Gates and Louise Hamilton Centre (which is operating seven days a week) are through the National Booking System only at the moment.
More than 1,300 people had their vaccines at Market Gates last weekend.
Appointment slots are added on a regular basis so people should check back if they can’t immediately book a slot.
Walk ins are available across Norfolk and Waveney – and a list, which is constantly updated, can be found on the Norfolk and Waveney CCG website: https://norfolkandwaveneyccg.nhs.uk/vaccinations/covid-19-vaccines/booster-third-dose-covid-vaccinations