Progress slow but Derbyshire Dales ahead on vaccine uptake for school pupils as walk-in centres open up

As the Government opens up Covid vaccine walk-in centres to under-16s in an effort to speed up delivery, the latest data showed that just 30 per cent of Derbyshire Dales teenagers have had a first dose.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 2:50 pm

With an estimated 941 out of 3,134 residents aged 12-15 jabbed so far, the Dales is actually one of the better protected populations.

In just over a third of local authority areas in England, fewer than ten per cent have received their first dose. In some areas the uptake rate is as low as five per cent. Only 15 districts in England have recorded jabs for at least a quarter of the age group – of which five are in Derbyshire.

On Tuesday, October 19, NHS England’s chief executive Amanda Pritchard announced that under-16s will be able to schedule jabs via the national booking service, making walk-in centres accessible for the first time.

Secondary school students in England can now arrange a Covid vaccine appointment at their nearest walk-in centre. (Photo by LUIS ACOSTA/AFP via Getty Images)

Health secretary Sajid Javid said the move will offer families greater flexibility and added: “It is important that anyone who is invited as eligible for a vaccine, including young people, take up that offer.”

The original plan was for vaccines to be administered in schools to 3.2million young teenagers across the country, with the aim of offering a dose to all those eligible by half-term.

While uptake has been low across England, the picture is very different in Scotland, where more than half of children in local areas have now had a vaccine dose.

Headteachers’ unions had called for vaccines to be offered via walk-in centres, saying that students were missing out on jabs at school partly because so many were absent with Covid, and other issues arising from understaffed vaccination teams.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders , said: “It was painfully slow to get underway in some areas and has been beset by logistical problems, not to mention being disrupted by the irresponsible actions of anti-vaccination protesters.

“The announcement from NHS England that young people can attend vaccination drop-in centres during the half-term holiday is a big help and we hope they will do so in sufficient numbers to help slow the spread of the virus in schools and colleges.”

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