By Julia Gregory, local democracy reporter
More details have emerged which could explain some of the reasons why vaccine take-up in Westminster has been lower than other parts of the country – as some people have already got their vaccine elsewhere.
Just 65 per cent or 51,185 Westminster adults over 50 and those at clinical risk had their first vaccine by April 20.
Across London 87 per cent of the over 50s and vulnerable people have had their first jab.
Westminster City Council has been involved in contacting patients who had not taken up the offer of the coronavirus vaccine in a bid to address any concerns they might have and encourage them to get the jab.
Councils across the country are doing this, using patient lists provided by the NHS.
Tim Mitchell, the cabinet member for public health said:
“Because of the relative underperformance in vaccine take up we’ve been calling people in priority groups who haven’t been vaccinated.”
The NHS says it is ensuring that people who have not have the jab get three phone calls and also get follow-up letters so they can arrange to be vaccinated.
Westminster Council’s interim director of public health Russell Styles said: “We found a whole host of reasons which may feed into this low rate.”
“There’s a number of reasons, it’s not just one or two reasons.”
Staff from Westminster Connects have phoned up people over 70 to encourage more people to get the jab.
The vaccine was first rolled out to the at risk over 80s late December with younger age groups following on.
The team are now speaking to people aged 60 plus we haven’t yet had the jab.
They’ve made 3,784 calls out of the 4,521 to the over 70s they were asked.
However nearly half of them were uncontactable, despite making three calls to follow them up and Mr Styles said 280 had their vaccinations abroad. “So it’s a recording error”.
Mr Styles said there’s no mechanism to capture this in the NHS data systems, so he’s alerted the NHS number crunchers to the issue.
The list also included 42 people who were actually dead and 243 people who had moved out of Westminster.
There are also some discrepancies with Office for National Statistics data for the over 80s.
Others were keen to get vaccinated and the Westminster Connects team helped arrange this.
Cllr Mitchell said residents can also go to the walk-in vaccination centre at Marble Arch without an appointment.
Residents can also get home visits if they can’t get to the vaccination centre and health bosses are also looking at extra options where the take up is low.
Meanwhile the rates of Covids in Westminster have dropped – with just 32.5 cases per 100,000,down from a peak of 597 per 100,000 people on January 5.
Over the last week there have been 85 cases in the borough – with just over one per cent of people getting positive tests.
And councillor Mitchell said: “I think Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea have a high testing rate because some people are looking to be travelling and going back to work.”
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