Fewer than one in 10 young teenagers vaccinated in Newcastle
Fewer than one in 10 12 to 15-year-olds have received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine in Newcastle, figures show.
Figures from the UK's daily covid dashboard show 824 young teenagers had received a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by October 17 – around 6.2% of the age group, based on the number of people on the National Immunisation Management Service.
Of them, 0.2% had received both jabs.
Across England, just 15.0% of 12 to 15-year-olds had received their first jab by October 17 – compared to 47.4% across Scotland.
The national rate varies between 44.3% in South Ribble, in the North West, and just 3.5% in the London borough of Barking and Dagenham.
Colin Angus, senior research fellow at the School of Health and Related Research at the University of Sheffield, said the difference in uptake across the two nations was down to the way the vaccines were being rolled out to youngsters in the age group.
In Scotland, vaccines are being delivered in the way they are for adults – while in England they were being managed in schools.
However, Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced on Tuesday (October 19) that 12 to 15-year-olds in England would also be able to arrange a Covid vaccine through the national booking service.
Mr Angus said: "While hospitalisation and even death from Covid in young people is thankfully very rare, increased vaccine uptake should help to reduce transmission rates in these age groups, bringing overall case numbers down and reducing the risk of infection being passed on to older, more vulnerable groups."
A first dose of vaccine cannot be delivered to someone if they are within four weeks of testing positive for Covid-19, waiting for the results of a coronavirus test, or self-isolating.
James Bowen, director of policy for school leaders’ union NAHT, said before Mr Javid's announcement that allowing 12 to 15-year-olds to attend walk-in vaccination centres would be "a sensible decision".
Meanwhile, 57.2% of 16 to 17-year-olds across England were vaccinated by October 17 – up from 56.5% a week before.
In Newcastle, 56.7% of older teenagers were – up from 55.7% on October 10.
Asked why there appeared to be problems in getting jabs into the arms of pupils, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “There are a number of different factors, there’s no one single issue that presents a challenge.
“As ever with Covid-19 there are a number of challenges to overcome.”
In a joint letter to parents of secondary school and college pupils last week, Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi and Health Secretary Sajid Javid told parents that vaccines are the best defence against Covid-19.
“They help protect young people, and benefit those around them.
“Vaccination makes people less likely to catch the virus and less likely to pass it on,” the letter said.