COVID vaccination rates in Scarborough have local health officials worried.
As the remaining legal COVID restrictions come to an end, North Yorkshire health officials say there are 41,000 people in the county who have not yet been vaccinated, or around 10% of the population.
The county’s chief nurse – Sue Peckitt – says they are now seeing few requests for shots in the Scarborough area.
Sue Peckitt – says figures show Scarborough is one of the areas with lower vaccination rates than elsewhere.
Sue said vaccination rates were lowest among 18 to 29 year olds, followed by 30 to 39 year olds.
The biggest vaccination centers are being closed. Clinics at Scarborough Rugby Club came to a halt earlier in the month.
Vaccines are now being redirected to pharmacies and doctors’ surgeries where an additional booster dose will be offered to all adults over 75 and the most vulnerable over 12s this spring.
A fall booster program, aimed at a wider group of people, is also planned for later this year.
Pharmacies and doctors’ surgeries will also be used to vaccinate children aged 5 to 11 from April.
This extension to the rollout comes after months of deliberation over the benefits and risks before official scientific advice concluded that the move would help protect the “very small” number of children who become seriously ill with Covid.
As of yesterday, all remaining legal Covid restrictions in England have been removed as part of the Prime Minister’s ‘Living with Covid’ plan.
This means that people who test positive are no longer legally required to self-isolate, although they are still advised to do so.
The decision surprised some health officials who wondered what the changes will do to the spread of the virus.
North Yorkshire’s weekly infection rate is currently at 412 cases per 100,000 people – its lowest level since mid-December.
Dr Victoria Turner, public health consultant at North Yorkshire County Council, describes this as a “much improved” picture.
She also said that although many people have some immunity to vaccines or previous infection, people should still be cautious about the virus now that all restrictions have ended.
Dr Turner said:
“There is a very high proportion of the population that will have some degree of immunity, whether through vaccination, direct exposure to the virus or both.
“What that doesn’t mean is that you are therefore safe from contracting the virus again.”