Vaccine minister pledges ‘bumper weeks ahead’ for London

The vaccine minister has promised a significant ‘step change’ in the number of Covid doses rolled out in London following concerns raised by local MPs.

Nadhim Zahawi said the Government were “working towards accelerating the pace of rollout,” and said there would be some bumper weeks ahead to ramp up numbers.

London MPs have been critical of Covid vaccination rollouts in their constituencies, and used a parliamentary debate this week to raise further concerns.

Low supply, vaccine hesitancy and health inequalities were all raised at the debate.

London’s vaccine figures have been lagging behind the rest of the country since January when the national rollout took off.

PA. Londons vaccine rollout

PA. London’s vaccine rollout

In mid-January, Sadiq Khan said he was “hugely concerned” after the capital had received just 10% of the country’s vaccines, despite being home to 16% of the population.

And in February it was reported that south east London had the slowest vaccination rate for over 80s in the country, with most of London at the bottom of the list.

At the recent parliamentary debate, Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush MP Andy Slaughter, who called the debate, said that vaccine take-up varied massively depending on where you lived.

“When one adds in deprivation, looking at, say, the most deprived 10% of the population, when one adds in ethnicity and certain ethnic groups which are vaccinated at a much lower rates than others we’re often talking about 50% and that should be ringing alarm bells in Whitehall and it’s certainly ringing alarm bells locally and we have not cracked that nut.”

PA. Londons vaccine rollout

PA. London’s vaccine rollout

Responding to the concerns, vaccine minister Hadhim Zahawi promised a “step change” in the capital’s vaccine rollout out.

He said: “”We are working towards accelerating the pace of rollout with some bumper weeks ahead from the middle of this month allowing us to ramp up the vaccination.”

Zahawi also shared concerns about the uptake of the vaccine amongst BAME communities, and said they were working closely with community leaders.

Surrey Comet | Kingston