Significant regional discrepancies are emerging in vaccine uptake among teenagers in England, according to the latest data.
Figures from the NHS show that London boroughs - including Hackney and City of London - have recorded the lowest vaccination coverage for teens, relative to population size.
Among the 65,971-strong under 18 population in the two boroughs, 2,110 had been given their first Covid jab as of 26 September.
This adds up to just 3.1%, the lowest in England.
‘London below national average’
Across London as a whole, 5.3% of the under 18 population have been vaccinated.
Among the 307 local authorities covered by the statistics, the national average is 7.9%.
Uptake is calcuated using the number of 0 to 18 year olds registered with the NHS in England.
Data for teenagers aged 12 to 17 alone has not yet been compiled in weekly NHS data.
The vaccination programme for 16 and 17 year olds has been running since 5 August while Covid vaccines started being rolled out to children aged 12 to 15 in England from September 20.
The data also revealed that other London boroughs were falling below the national average for vaccinating teenagers.
Barking and Dagenham, Waltham Forest, Newham and Islington also recorded uptake of between just 3.3% and 3.8%.
‘No one is left behind’
Martin Michaelis, Professor of Molecular Medicine from the University of Kent, said: “When we compare London to other parts of the country, various reasons may contribute to the observed differences in vaccine uptake.
“The proportion of individuals from minority backgrounds is higher in London, and members of such communities are known to be more hesitant when it comes to vaccinations.
“Moreover, people in London are more mobile than people in other areas. This means that you have more people in London, who are still registered with a GP practice in an area, in which they do not live anymore. Hence, the number of people registered with GP practices in London is likely to be somewhat inflated, which makes the vaccination rates look lower than they actually are.”
A spokesperson for NHS North East London Clinical Commissioning Group said: “We have already vaccinated 20,000 under-18s against coronavirus and offered jabs to everyone aged 16 and over, and we are making first doses available to all 12- to 15-year-olds in line with JCVI guidance.
“Working closely with our local partners, we will continue to reach out to encourage under-18s to come forward for one of the safe, effective vaccines – through conversations with a GP, by increasing access to jabs at community venues and events, and by providing opportunities for young people and their parents and guardians to have their questions answered, so no one is left behind.”
Efforts to entice London teenagers into getting the jab recently involved an event in Stratford on 2 October with TikTok.
Rutland leads the way
Scientists originally wanted children aged 16 and 17 to be offered the vaccine before the summer holidays finished on Monday, August 23.
This was so children could be protected against the virus in time before returning to the classroom.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advised that this age group should be inoculated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
While London is seeing fewer teens vaccinated, Rutland, in the East Midlands, is leading the way.
So far, 12.8% of under 18s who live in Rutland have already received their first dose – more than one in eight.
Rutland is closely followed by Richmondshire in North Yorkshire with a vaccination average of 12.4% and Winchester at 11.9%.
Gender vaccine gap
NHS data also shows that there is a gap emerging in the number of females and males taking up the vaccination.
There have been 10,000 fewer males under 18 who have had their first dose of the Covid vaccine compared to females the same age in England.
Uptake among girls is at 7.9% while among boys it is at 7.3%.
The highest uptake among any NHS region is in the South West - with 9.2% of females and 8.6% of males each receiving their first jab.
This compares to 5.1% of boys and 5.6% of girls in London.
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