Covid vaccinations: London and east of England lag behind other NHS regions

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Discrepancies marked in over-8os group as less than a third get jab, while in North East area 46% vaccinated to date

London and the East of England regions have vaccinated the lowest proportion of people aged over 80, amounting to a little under the third of their total population, according to the first regional figures published by the NHS in England.

An analysis of the newly released data by the Guardian highlights marked regional discrepancies with the two areas well behind the NHS region North East and Yorkshire, where nearly 50% of the over 80s have received at least one dose.

A total of 29% of the over 80s in the East of England region and 31% in London have received a first dose of either the Pfizer/BioNTech or Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

By contrast, the proportion in North East and Yorkshire is more than 46%.

The reasons for the discrepancies are not immediately clear, although GPs and MPs have complained that there is not enough consistent supply of the two vaccines across England, making it difficult to plan ahead.

Some of the discrepancy could be due to differing population levels among the 80-plus age category, one of the highest-priority groups: 3.4% of Londoners are aged 80 or more, compared with 5.2% in the north-east and Yorkshire.Doctors’ surgeries offering vaccinations have had to cancel appointments, restrict bookings and plead for more supplies, as the NHS manages supply of the potentially life-saving vaccinations around the country.

Some GPs have reported that they have been told they cannot start vaccinations of the next target group of people (those between 75 and 80 years) until other parts of the country have caught up – prompting complaints that some areas are being “levelled down”.

The four remaining English regions have been vaccinating the over 80s at a roughly similar rate, with the Midlands achieving 36%, the South East and South West each on 37%, and the North West a total of 38%.

On Wednesday Boris Johnson acknowledged that the vaccine distribution was uneven while giving evidence to the Commons liaison committee.

Reflecting more up-to-date data, Johnson said the over 80s vaccination rate was now “more than 50%, well over 50% now in the north-east and Yorkshire”.

But he added it was “less good in some other parts of the country”.

Overall, according to previously released headline figures, 2.25 million people had received at least a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine by Tuesday.

Immunisation rates are currently running at about 1.3 million a week.

The UK needs to reach 2m doses a week in order to reach the 15 million most vulnerable people by mid February. The government aims to offer a first dose to all those people in the four most vulnerable categories by 15 February.

The four categories include the over 70s, those who live in care homes, NHS and care workers, and people with serious underlying health conditions.

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