Portsmouth young people urged to get Covid-19 jab as 'hesitancy' found in city
YOUNG people are being urged to get vaccinated as figures reveal fewer people in the city have been jabbed than those in neighbouring towns.
Health bosses have reported ‘increased hesitancy’ in lower age groups, warning the vaccine is still the ‘best’ form of protection against Covid-19
It comes as older people, who have already been vaccinated, have called on others to follow suit and told The News: ‘We’ve done our bit and now it’s their turn.’
A total of 111,974 people in Portsmouth have had a first dose of a coronavirus vaccine, some 59.1 per cent of the city’s population, as of May 26.
This is below the south east average of 68.3 per cent, and significantly less than in East Hampshire where the rate was 77.6 per cent and Fareham where it was 76.7 per cent.
Havant and Gosport also had higher uptake rates with 75.6 per cent and 74.2 per cent respectively.
Public health director for Portsmouth, Helen Atkinson, said research has shown younger age groups have been more reluctant to get the vaccine.
‘This seems mainly driven by the belief that they’re unlikely to get seriously ill from Covid-19,’ she said.
‘Whilst it’s generally been older people and those with long-term health conditions being hospitalised and losing their lives to date, it’s hard to say for certain what impact different variants of the virus might have.
‘Even if someone avoids being seriously ill they may experience long Covid which can be debilitating and stop you doing things that you enjoy.
‘The cases of Covid-19 we’re seeing in the city now are predominantly in younger age groups who have yet to be vaccinated, which demonstrates that the vaccines work.
‘I would strongly encourage everyone who is eligible to get the vaccination. It's the best way to protect ourselves and others and will help us return to all of the things that we've missed.’
She added that Portsmouth has a younger population than neighbouring areas, which would account for the varying rates.
Speaking at a primary care commissioning committee meeting yesterday, Simon Cooper, from the Portsmouth Clinical Commissioning Group said: ‘We are seeing increased hesitancy in some of these groups, whether that was always there or coincided with the issues around AstraZeneca including embolisms.
‘We are working very closely with public health and the council on communities where there is low uptake.’
GP Hannah Morgan, clinical director for the Hayling Island and Emsworth Primary Care Network, said the vaccine uptake slowed as we reached ‘a different phase of the pandemic’.
‘When we were in lockdown the older people were at home and the younger people were working from home more so the minute we rang anyone they could come in straight away,’ she said.
‘We were hoping the vaccine programme would open up society and that has happened and it’s brilliant.
‘But we’ve got to help people understand it’s just so important to get the vaccine to get ahead of the variant. It’s the mantra for us at the moment.’
Vaccinated residents have told The News they support calls to boost uptake.
Gosport resident Michael Perry received his second jab from the Guildhall Walk pharmacy in Portsmouth yesterday.
He said: ‘I wanted to get myself vaccinated as soon as I can, and I already feel better for it.
‘I think it's really important that we get ourselves vaccinated because it protects those around us. For the younger generation it's critical that they book the jabs – we’ve done our bit and now it’s their turn.’
And 56-year-old Mel Byrne, from Southsea, had her second AstraZeneca dose this week.
She said: ‘It’s so important. It’s not just about you, it’s about everyone else. I have got an elderly mum who I want to keep safe.
‘I understand there are some people who can’t actually have the jab for various reasons and of course that’s fine.
‘But for the people who can, this is about the greater good. We all want to move forward. There have been so many repercussions to the pandemic and this is the way to help things move.’
In England, people aged 30 and over can now book their vaccines.
Vaccine uptake as of May 25
First dose: 111,974 – 59.1 per cent
Second dose: 67,180 – 35.5 per cent
First dose: 75,292 – 76.7 per cent
Second dose: 50,591 – 51.5 per cent
First dose: 50,257 – 74.2 per cent
Second dose: 32,643 – 48.2 per cent
First dose: 79,130 – 75.6 per cent
Second dose: 53,175 – 50.8 per cent
First dose: 81,498 – 77.6 per cent
Second dose: 51,252 – 48.8 per cent
First dose: 38,614,683 – 73.3 per cent
Second dose: 24,043,956 – 45.6 per cent