Get a jab! Londoners urged to get vaccine this weekend as capital moves within 3million jabs of target for ending lockdown

·6-min read
Members of the public queue to receive a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine outside a temporary vaccination centre set up a the Emirates Stadium (AFP via Getty Images)
Members of the public queue to receive a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine outside a temporary vaccination centre set up a the Emirates Stadium (AFP via Getty Images)

Londoners were urged to get vaccinated this weekend as the capital moved within three million jabs of the government’s target for ending lockdown.

About 1.8m first doses and 1.2m second doses have to be administered over the next three-and-a-half weeks to bring London in line with the Government’s targets to lift lockdown on July 19.

Boris Johnson wants all people over 18 to have been offered a first jab and for two-thirds of adults to have been “double jabbed” to maximise safety.

A further 35,204 UK cases of the Delta variant of Covid first found in India was announced on Friday morning – highlighting the need for as many people as possible to have the maximum protection from two jabs before social distancing ends. There have now been 111,157 cases of Covid involving the Delta strain.

More than 60 pop-up centres, including many walk-in venues, will open this weekend for Londoners to “grab a jab”. A four-day mass vaccination clinic, with pre-booked and walk-in appointments, opened this morning at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium.

Major events are also taking place this weekend at Saracens and Twickenham rugby stadiums and at Charlton, Crystal Palace and Watford football grounds in a bid to accelerate the roll-out, especially among people under 40.

A second walk-in centre at Westfield shopping centre in Stratford was being opened today by Mayor Sadiq Khan and vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi after a summit designed to drive uptake across the capital and ensure all Londoners have two jabs “as soon as possible”.

London has lagged behind the rest of the country since the first vaccines were given in December. Efforts will now focus on removing the barriers to getting the last 1.8 million of the 6.9m adult Londoners jabbed.

London vaccine countdown 25 June (ES)
London vaccine countdown 25 June (ES)

Mr Khan said the capital faced “unique challenges”, with a younger, more mobile and diverse population, and a higher proportion not registered with a GP.

The capital also has the highest proportion of the UK’s migrant population, who are less likely to be registered with a GP - leaving them at risk of missing out on the official invitation to book an appointment.

Mr Khan warned the “job is far from over” and said walk-in centres where immigration status is not required would continue to be used.

“The next three weeks are absolutely crucial to ensuring restrictions are lifted,” he said. “It’s an incredible achievement that more than 8.3m doses of the life-saving Covid-19 vaccines have already been given to Londoners, but we still have much to do and I really want to drive up the number of people getting vaccinated even further.

“I urge all Londoners aged 18 and over to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible.”

There have been a total of 117 UK deaths from the Delta variant, up from the 73 reported last week, Public Health England reported on Friday.

The majority of the cases have been in unvaccinated people. Only 80 people who had received two doses required an overnight stay in hospital.

In London, Lambeth has recorded the greatest number of Delta variant cases, a total of 864. A surge in testing to tackle the outbreak was launched in the borough earlier this week.

Croydon had the second highest number of Delta cases detected (844), followed by 791 in Tower Hamlets, 776 in Wandsworth, 721 in Ealing, 689 in Brent and 627 in Hillingdon.

Public Health England said an additional 514 people were admitted to hospital in England with a diagnosis of Covid-19 in the week to Monday, June 21. Of these, 304 were unvaccinated.

Mr Zahawi said: “Today’s London Vaccine Summit is all about working together to ensure everyone has the information and advice they need to come forward for the jab when they get their call, as well as learning what has worked particularly well and trying to emulate that success.

“The next few weeks are crucial as we step up our efforts with the NHS, health, community, faith and business leaders to encourage even more people to get their first and second doses as we continue to fight our way out of this global pandemic.”

Gino Amato injects a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at the Spurs ground (AFP via Getty Images)
Gino Amato injects a dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine at the Spurs ground (AFP via Getty Images)

Dr Vin Diwakar, regional medical rirector for the NHS in London, said: “Londoners have been profoundly affected by this devastating virus and so the NHS won’t rest until more people have received their life-saving jabs.

“The vaccines are safe, effective and they are available at hundreds of convenient locations across the capital, so my plea today is to get both jabs and play your part to protect our city - let’s get London vaccinated.”

About 10,000 doses of Pfizer, the main vaccine for under 40s, will be available at Arsenal. Jonathan O’Sullivan, Islington council’s director for public health, said 800 people were involved in staging the Gunner Get Jabbed event, which is open to Londoners without a NHS number and regardless of immigration status.

Mr O’Sullivan told the Standard: “This is a really important time. We really want to increase the vaccination rate and reach out to people who have not yet had their vaccine. There is a real desire to vaccinate to help us get back to a normal way of life and through the summer.”

He added: “The thing about this kind of event is that it can really capture the imagination. It gets conversations going and raises awareness and, over time, contributes to vaccine uptake even in people who didn’t attend the event.

“Arsenal in the community have a great reach. They really capture the parts that others cannot. Events of this scale really bring forward the pace of vaccination.”

A total of 5,074,349 first doses and 3,322,640 second doses had been administered in London by Wednesday night. Almost 4,200 jabs were given at Spurs last Sunday, while 6,000 were administered at West Ham’s London stadium on Saturday.

This meant that, from yesterday morning, a further 1,825,651 first and 1,277,360 second doses were required for the capital to fall in line with the Prime Minister’s targets, a combined total of 3,103,011 jabs.

About 73.1 per cent of adult Londoners had a first dose and 47.2 per cent two doses by the middle of the week.

By comparison, 82.5 per cent of people in the UK had received one dose and more than 60 per cent two doses.

The Arsenal event is open 8am-8pm from Friday for four days. Twickenham is running a walk-in event for first and second doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine today and on Sunday. Saracens’ StoneX stadium in Hendon is running a two-day Pfizer walk-in event on Saturday and Sunday.

Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park stadium will offer first and second doses of AstraZeneca on Friday and throughout the weekend.

Charlton is hosting another “Vaccination at the Valley” event on Saturday, administering Pfizer jabs. Watford’s Vicarage Road ground will distribute the Pfizer jab from 10am to 9pm on Sunday.

Community hubs include the Al Birr Mosque in Leyton, the St Nicholas shopping centre in Sutton and Redbridge Town Hall in Ilford.

The NHS will shortly launch a new online service enabling people to find their nearest walk-in site simply by entering their postcode. Text messages will be sent to people living nearby who haven’t had their first dose.

· A full list of vaccination sites in London can be found here: https://www.england.nhs.uk/london/our-work/covid-19-vaccination-programme-2/covid-19-vaccine-sites-in-london/

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