Reasons behind slow-down in vaccine uptake explained by Portsmouth council boss - as people urged to 'help keep your neighbours safe'

A COUNCIL boss has explained the reasons behind a slow-down in Portsmouth’s coronavirus vaccine uptake, as public figures urge local people to book in for their jab.

By Emily Jessica Turner and Fiona Callingham
Friday, 16th April 2021, 7:00 am
Updated Friday, 16th April 2021, 12:08 pm

Since the nationwide roll-out began on December 8, almost 100,000 people in Portsmouth have had at least their first coronavirus vaccination - but figures are showing a drop in the number of people taking up the vaccine.

A total of 98,948 people in the city council area have received a dose of the vaccine, and until recently people here have been vaccinated at a rate of between 4,000 and 12,000 a week.

However, between April 4 and 11 only 1,282 people were vaccinated - a large drop in the figures.

A total of 98,948 people in the city council area have received a dose of the vaccine. Picture: Sarah Standing

Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘One of the reasons the numbers have slowed slightly is they are moving on to second doses now.

'The priority is making sure vulnerable people get their second dose.

'But also within the nine priority groups we are not seeing 100 per cent of people getting their first vaccine.

‘With some groups it's around 80 per cent. That means there are hundreds of people who are at risk of the virus.

'We know that getting the first vaccine is really important - of course the second is important too - but we need to make sure those people at risk do get their first.

‘I would urge anyone who is in those nine groups who missed their vaccine to get another one booked in.’

A statement made by Portsmouth City Council said that the uptake rate can be constrained by patients, vaccines and vaccinators.

As is the case across the country, expected supply constraints in April are part of the reason why there is a lower number of first doses.

There is still supply coming through, and as from earlier in the week 45-49 year olds are now being reached for first doses.

The current focus on the vaccine roll-out is on maximising uptake in cohorts one to nine and second doses, for which the supply chain is separate.

Penny Mordaunt, Conservative MP for Portsmouth North, said: ‘Our objective is the vaccine - if we’ve got them, they’re going into people’s arms.

‘We’ve seen a “lumpy”, non-uniform flow of people taking up the vaccine but it’s important that the public phone up and go online to book appointments, and show up to their appointments.

‘I think most people are still very keen to get their vaccine, although there are certain subsections of the community who are more reluctant.

‘Our healthcare workers are reassuring these members of the community and answering any questions they may have.

‘We’ve got to keep going - the more vaccines we give, the more lives we can save. The statistics say that for every 250 vaccines going into people’s arms in Portsmouth, we will save a life in Portsmouth.

‘I encourage everyone to take up the vaccine. It’s so important to continue the pace and to keep going. Vaccinations and social distancing, these are really immediate things that you can do to keep your local nurses safe, to keep your neighbours safe.’