NHS chiefs in Northumberland not deterred by anti-vaxxers

NHS chiefs in Northumberland have promised to “plough on” in the wake of anti-vax protests in the North East.

Covid-19 vaccinations and anti-vax protests were discussed at the council meeting.
Covid-19 vaccinations and anti-vax protests were discussed at the council meeting.

Protesters, some reportedly brandishing pictures of dead children, attempted to picket Saint Thomas More Catholic School, in Blaydon, Gateshead, this week as children received their coronavirus jabs.

But despite the tactics employed, health bosses for the county believe the take-up of the Covid-19 vaccination in the region has shown the public’s confidence in the treatment.

“Nationally, there’s been a real movement behind the anti-vaxxers and there’s some schools which have had anti-vaxxers standing outside – not in Northumberland, but elsewhere in the North East,” said Claire Riley, executive director of communications and corporate affairs at Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust.

“I’m also aware of teachers who have been approached or written to, or had legal letters sent to them for daring to allow vaccination to take place on site.

“I’m afraid we have to ignore it and we have to plough on. People are voting with their feet, families are making decisions which are based on what is right for their family.

“And I think, based on the amount of people who have come forward in our area to get vaccinated, it shows that there’s a huge degree of confidence in the vaccination programme and long may that continue.”

She was speaking to Northumberland County Council’s Health and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which also heard health chiefs claim the county is in “pretty much the best position in the country”, heading into a winter where many are predicting a double blow from resurgent Covid-19 and flu.

According to national figures, Northumberland has been one of the UK’s leading areas for vaccine take-up, with almost 90% of those eligible having had at least one dose.

Even among young people enthusiasm for the jab appears to be high, with at least 80% of 16-24-year-olds having come forward, believed to be the highest proportion in the country.

Referring to the protests outside the school in Gateshead, Cllr Richard Dodd told the panel: “I have a concern that there could be some wrong people disguised in there, using this as a platform, and if I saw them in Northumberland I would be very upset.”