Health bosses have said more needs to be done to overcome ‘vaccine hesitancy’ in Nottinghamshire.
More than 280,000 first doses of the Covid-19 vaccination have been given out to adults across the county so far.
For comparison to Nottingham and Nottinghamshire’s 281,320 jabs, in Leicester, Rutland and Leicestershire there have been 294,433 jabs given out as of Feb 21.
In Derbyshire, there have been 305,815 jabs given out.
But while uptake is fairly high in some categories, overall, just 22.8 percent of all adults (16 and over) in Nottingham have had their first dose, according to figures from NHS England.
This makes it the area with the lowest number of adults having the first dose in the county.
While this could be put down to a younger population, there are gaps within all age groups and work is being done to encourage people to take up their vaccine offer.
Dr Andy Haynes, executive lead for the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Integrated Care System confirmed the latest figures showed 94 percent of the top four priority groups had had their first vaccine (care homes, over 80s and frontline health workers, over 75s and over 70s and clinically extremely vulnerable).
In cohort 5 (aged 65 and above) 82 percent had been vaccinated which was in the top 10 nationally.
Then 16 percent of cohort 6 (adults aged 16 to 65 years in an at-risk group) have received their first dose.
Dr Haynes said: “What we’ve seen here is 80 percent of the uptake is relatively straightforward but in all the cohorts that we’ve gone through, the last 20 percent is much more difficult so we need that blended approach of access to the larger sites and also a more agile approach using all the local factors.”
When asked about the low uptake, Dr Haynes added: “There is vaccine hesitancy – not a term I particularly like because it’s our job to overcome that – but we need to do more to overcome some of the resistance that people have and the concerns.
“I think that’s all ongoing work that needs to continue and that has gathered real momentum.”
Director for Public Health in Nottingham, Alison Challenger said: “There is a number of reasons why people sometimes don’t feel confident with the vaccine.
“But what we are seeing as the programme rolls out and many millions of vaccines given out is that actually the safety is better than we’d hoped for, the effectiveness is better than we’d hoped for – it’s also effective at reducing transmission.
“I would encourage anybody who is offered a vaccine to take this up.”
Director for Public Health in Nottinghamshire, Jonathan Gribbin said: “The work that we’re doing with our own workforce shows us that there might be quite a range of reasons why people are pausing, hesitant or not feeling confident about taking up the vaccine.
“I’d be cautious about overgeneralising those reasons – many of those need dealing with on a one-to-one basis.
“We are fortunate to live in a country that has a system and arrangement whereby millions of people year on year benefit from vaccines.
“As well as moving this along at pace, we also want to make sure no one is inadvertently left behind.”
It comes as new information has been published by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on who will receive their dose next.
Officials hope to have given a first dose to the top nine priority groups by mid-April, and to all adults by the end of July.
People aged 40-49 will be prioritised next for a Covid-19 vaccine, with scientific advisers saying the move would “provide the greatest benefit in the shortest time”.
The JCVI also highlighted people at higher risk of hospitalisation from the virus include men, those from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities (BAME), those with a body mass index over 30, and those living in deprived neighbourhoods.
The JCVI strongly advises that these people promptly take up the offer of vaccination.
Asked how harder-to-reach communities were being targeted, Dr Haynes said: “We are concerned.
“But our local response has been targeted and had real help with people sharing videos and social media posts about their own experience and their views on the safety of the vaccine and the need to have it.
“Those local messages are very, very important. We’ve also had really helpful advice about channels that are more effective at targeting different age groups.
“Clearly for some communities faith is very important.
“We can’t rest on our laurels on this until we have persuaded as many people that we think will be protected by the vaccine, which is why we need to keep moving down the cohorts…getting to those harder to reach communities.
“Although above 94 percent sounds very good there is still more to do and we are very aware of that.”