Vaccine warning after deaths rise in Northumberland
Northumberland continues to have the highest Covid vaccine take-up in England – but fears are growing about the impact of hold-outs and the return of schools.
NHS chiefs in the county have dished out about 477,000 jabs since the programme started late last year.
But bosses have warned the coronavirus pandemic remains a danger after recording their deadliest month since March.
“It all stems down to the last ten per cent,” said Northumberland County Councillor Richard Dodd. “That number is remaining static, I appreciate you’re trying everything possible, but that stubborn ten per cent might muck it up for the rest of us.
“At what point do we say, because you refuse to have a vaccine you can’t work in certain areas or travel, because that might be the only weapon that’s left in the box.
“Schools are opening next week, universities are opening and if spikes continue we’re going to be in this state of limbo for decades.”
Within Northumberland, 84.1 per cent of those eligible have now had two doses of a coronavirus jab, while nine in ten have had one.
However, about 15,000 over-18s are yet to receive a jab, of whom more than a third are aged over 50, one of the groups considered most at risk.
Throughout August, the county recorded 16 deaths linked to Covid-19, the most since March, when there were 20 fatalities.
The deadliest point for Northumberland so far during the pandemic was in January, when 11 people died in a single day and the seven-day average peaked at 6.4 per 100,000 people.
In July, MPs voted to make it compulsory for staff in care homes to be vaccinated.
Liz Morgan, director of public health at the county council, conceded deaths were ‘slowly increasing’ but added the reason for this was not yet clear.
She added: “We are slowly chipping away at those who haven’t had their vaccine.
“I think the number of people who flatly refuse are relatively small and I think there is something about just continuing to work as hard as we can to make the vaccine as accessible as possible.
“And making every contact count – if only one in 100 conversations stimulates somebody to have a vaccine, then that’s definitely worth doing.”
James Harrison, Local Democracy Reporting Service