Herd immunity not an option says health chief as hundreds still refuse COVID vaccination

The health director for Essex has said he is concerned for the hundreds of people who have missed receiving a COVID-19 jab.

Around five percent of those residents who should have received a coronavirus vaccination already in Essex are yet to get the potentially life-saving jab.

It equates to hundreds classed as clinically vulnerable that Dr Mike Gogarty, director of public health at Essex County Council, says will not be protected, even with a large-scale uptake of vaccine through herd immunity.

At an Essex County Council health scrutiny committee on Wednesday March 17, Dr Gogarty said: “What I think is really critical is why each of those individuals have not been vaccinated and then get them into a place where they feel comfortable getting vaccinated and we can support them in doing so.

“The only way to do that is contact them individually and the only way to do that is through the GP practices and then through our Essex wellbeing services.

“The people I am most worried about are the ones in those groups and haven’t been vaccinated – the over 80s, the 70s to 74s and there are a whole host of reasons because of that.”

Dr Gogarty said that to date, no districts have a higher rate than the average in England – the highest being 56 per 100,000. The lowest is Maldon at just nine per 100,000.

He added: “Vaccinating is critical. The most important element is to make sure those in the highest risk groups – clinical vulnerable and elderly – are covered off.

“They are the ones who need to be fully vaccinated, while we look forward to vaccinating the younger groups   – we must do that.

“We will not see herd immunity due to vaccination – it is not being offered to children  – it is not quite effective enough – and there will be a number of people who chose not to have it.

“Choosing not to have it on the basis that other people are going to have it and you will get herd immunity is absolutely wrong and a very dangerous strategy.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter