Children urged to get Covid vaccine as figures show only 11pc of 12-15 year olds have had first jab
An education chief in Leeds has joined calls for children to be able to use walk-in Covid-19 vaccination centres to boost take-up after figures reveal just 11 per cent of 12-15-year-olds in the city have had their first jab.
The Leeds figure was published on the Government’s coronavirus dashboard showing estimated take-up of first doses of the vaccine among the 12-15 age group as of October 16 - and shows the city is in the bottom 35 per cent when compared to authorities in England and Scotland.
Top of the list was Dumfries and Galloway where 62.9 per cent 12-15-year-olds have had their first dose.
The lowest uptake was in Barking and Dagenham, which had just 3.5 per cent take-up.
Headteachers unions are calling for children to be allowed to use walk-in vaccination centres in England in light of the figures, to help speed up the roll-out.
Richard Sheriff, chief executive of Red Kite Learning Trust, which runs four secondary schools in Leeds, echoed those calls, saying the vaccines need to made much more accessible.
“One of the solutions is if they’re able to offer vaccines in places like Asda car parks or town centres - somewhere they can go with their parents when out shopping, that would be fantastic. “Just like other members of the public [can] now.”
Of his trust’s four Leeds high schools, just one - Crawshaw Academy in Pudsey - has had the Covid-19 vaccination team in.
The vaccine take-up at that school was “30 to 40 per cent”, he said, adding he suspected it was down to administrative and organisational issues rather than anti-vaxxers.
Mr Sheriff, who is also an executive member of the Association of School and College Leaders, said the Trust is just “waiting” to hear when vaccinations can go ahead at the remaining schools and suggested lack of vaccine availability combined with the sheer scale of the job at hand as possible reasons behind the “slow roll-out”.
It comes amid rising Covid-19 case rates in Leeds among that age group.
Government data shows the city’s rolling case rate among those aged 10-14 has soared, from 453.4 per 100,000 on September 1 to 1,809.5 on October 12 - the highest case rate of all age groups.
Mr Sheriff said his Trust has also seen record numbers of Covid-19 among its students.
“We have had more cases in the first six weeks than we had in the whole of last year among children.
“It’s certainly on rise. We’re hanging on until half term.
“The good news is we’ve had no reported serious illness among the student body but we have had several staff who have been affected - including double vaccinated staff.
“We have one head teacher off at the moment who has been really ill - and was in hospital last week.”
He said: “The effect of lost school time is really significant,” adding: “The virus is really horrible and still out there.
“Anything we can do to mitigate that - including vaccinating 12-16 year olds. We would urge children and parents to take up the vaccines on offer.”
A spokesperson for the NHS vaccination programme in the North East and Yorkshire said: "In just a few weeks, vaccination teams across Leeds have worked incredibly hard to put arrangements in place to offer these all important jabs in schools.
“As the rollout continues, local providers will continue to contact schools and work with parents to agree consent and organise vaccinations.”
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