Demand for urgent action as Newham lags behind in Covid-19 jabs

A nurse prepares a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine

The mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz has called for urgent action from the government after figures showed the borough is behind the national average for first doses. - Credit: PA

The mayor has accused the government of not providing Newham with its "fair" share of Covid-19 vaccines and demanded urgent action be taken.

Rokhsana Fiaz told councillors she was "deeply concerned" the borough is "very much behind" the national average on jabs at a council meeting on Monday, June 21.

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz wants residents to stick to Covid-rules as cases increase.

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz wants residents to stick to Covid-rules as cases increase. - Credit: Andrew Baker

Ms Fiaz said: "I'm asking the government to take urgent action to address vaccine inequality. Newham has not been getting its fair supply of the vaccine."

She added that for months Newham health professionals have complained of problems.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) denied there were vaccine shortages and ministers felt confident of supplies.

"Every part of the country gets allocated the doses they need to vaccinate their population and we are providing additional support to boost uptake in areas that need it most," she said.

Around 30 per cent of people in the borough have been fully immunised after two jabs compared to an average of 59pc across England.

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To date, 51pc of those eligible in Newham have received a first dose, compared to 80pc across England, according to Newham Council.

Newham estimates it needs at least 260,000 extra doses to protect every resident.

The Labour mayor hailed 100,000 second dose jabs given in Newham as "a great achievement" but explained boosting inoculations is "vital" given the rise in London's Delta variant cases.

Ms Fiaz said: "Every person in Newham has an equal right to be protected. Anything less is utterly unacceptable. I will not allow a situation where Newham is left at the back of the queue."

The DHSC spokesperson said vaccines are being distributed fairly across the country with data suggesting uptake tends to be lower among people on lower incomes and those from ethnic minorities.

She hailed government-backed schemes targeting vaccine hesitancy, such as the expansion of community champions - whose role is to promote uptake - and work with faith leaders.

Newham has been one of the hardest hit areas of the country during the pandemic. In May last year, it was identified by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) as having the highest death rate.

In February, ONS figures showed Newham's universal credit claimant rate soared by 231 per cent.