Get the Covid vaccine now to give London a boost

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Get the Covid vaccine now to give London a boost
© PA Wire Chelsea Pensioner John Byrne receives a Covid-19 booster vaccination from deputy chief Nurse Vanessa Sloane at the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Health chiefs have issued a fresh appeal to Londoners to get fully vaccinated “without delay” against Covid-19, including booster jabs, to protect themselves and the city as cases rise.

Speaking to the Standard, London regional director of public health at the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities Professor Kevin Fenton urged people in all boroughs now to “step-up their action to prevent catching and spreading Covid”.

With around 1.5 million adult Londoners yet to have two doses and far lower take-up rates among children, he stressed: “I would urge Londoners to get fully vaccinated without delay and get the all-important booster jab when offered.”

Professor Fenton warned that the capital had “reached another turning point in the progression of the virus in the city”.

He appealed: “Do get back to wearing face coverings in enclosed and crowded places, especially on the Tube and buses, wash your hands and test regularly, stay at home if you’re unwell, and don’t forget about good ventilation as it really does help.” He spoke out as:

A new publicity drive was launched at 25 key sites across the city, including Piccadilly Circus and both Westfields, to encourage people to get the booster jab and flu vaccine.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said that “across London, people have been coming forwards to get their life-saving jabs” but he warned: “We are in a race between the virus and the vaccine and as we go into winter, the gap is narrowing.

Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, said it would consider changing the wait for a booster from six months to five.

“But I don’t think it’s the prime issue at the moment,” he told Times Radio. “[That] is to try and get those vulnerable, elderly people in particular who would benefit from the booster, particularly when there are high infection rates and they are more likely to get hospitalised and have serious effect from waning immunity… we need to get them boosted.”

Vaccines could do the “heavy-lifting” to protect people “but they can’t do everything”. He added: “We should be wearing masks in crowded spaces and we should all remain sensible.”

Business chiefs and scientists are urging the Government to bring back mandatory mask wearing on public transport and introduce vaccine passports to avoid a winter crisis, working from home and other measures which would damage the economy.

Health minister Gillian Keegan strongly encouraged families to get children aged 12 to 15 (apart from those who should not have it for medical reason) vaccinated this half-term against Covid, which they can now do through the national booking system rather than just at school.

She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “All children, make sure that they have got the jab by the end of this half term.”

Jeremy Hunt, chairman of the Commons health committee, believes “waning of the vaccine immunity from our first wave” is “at the heart” of the latest surge in infections. He said: “What’s different this time compared to before is that although Covid cases are growing, they are not doing so exponentially so the real deciding factor is going to be the pressure on the NHS and there’s no doubt that in the last few weeks that has been going in the wrong direction.”

The number of Covid cases diagnosed in London has increased by more than 1,000 in the last two days and totals 22,735 in the most recent week.

A total of 4,342 new cases in the capital were announced last night, 1,025 more than Tuesday’s figure of 3,317.

However, case rates in the capital are the lowest of any English region, at 252 people per 100,000 population.

In London, only one borough — Hounslow — has a seven-day rate higher than the UK average, with 460.7 cases per 100,000 people in the most recent week.

But it is one of 23 London boroughs with a rate above the key figure of 200 cases per 100,000. The next worst-affected boroughs are Richmond (448), Kingston (409) and Sutton (390).

Dr Yvonne Young, London deputy director for health protection at the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Higher case rates started in west and south-west London but are now affecting half of our boroughs. Many of our cases are in school-aged children.”

London remains in last place for rolling out the single Pfizer jab being offered to pupils aged 12-15, with only 14.6 per cent having been jabbed, compared with 17.9 per cent across England.

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