Covid spring booster jab take-up concerns

Concerns have been raised at the number of elderly people who have failed to get a spring Covid booster jab across Essex.

Some 150,000 Essex residents over the age of 75 are eligible for the booster until the end of June – but to date just 55 per cent of that age group have taken up the offer.

It has sparked concern that although cases are falling more needs to be done to encourage people, especially the elderly, to be vaccinated before a Covid surge reappears in the autumn.

The autumn booster offered last year was taken up by 68 per cent of people over the age of 50 and 80 per cent of the most elderly.

Rate of cases per 100,000 people in a rolling seven-day period have dropped to about 11 from about a figure of about 50 recorded in mid March.

The number of people who died within 28 days of being identified as a Covid case in a seven day rolling average has fallen from 6.3 on January 1 to just two on May 18.

But it was the low uptake of vaccine among the most elderly that has sparked concern ahead of what is expected to be a uptick when the weather gets colder.

Health overview policy and scrutiny committee member Councillor Dave Harris said: “The 55 per cent of people getting a booster I’m very concerned about because although the incidents of Covid are going down because of summer, we know what is going to happen in autumn and winter.

“And those most vulnerable are the ones I’m most concerned about.”

Danny Showell, public health consultant at Essex County Council said: “The most important thing is keeping the message alive as much as possible.

“I agree that Covid is not really in the headlines. It seems to be a trivial illness – a little bit unpleasant if you get it and that is probably true for most people who have had a vaccination.

“But if you have not had a vaccination or if you have not had a booster and you are over the 50 age bracket then there are significant risks.

“You only need two or three per cent to become ill and ten that is a serious problem for the individual and the services they need to support them.

“It is important to keep the message alive as much as possible – not to overstate and be alarmist about it, but to keep the message that it is a sensible thing to do.”

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter