Leeds health director warns of 'vaccine complacency' ahead of predicted new wave of Covid infections

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There is rising “complacency” among the general public about vaccines, a senior Leeds health official has warned.

Victoria Eaton, the city’s director of public health, said take-up rates of the Covid booster and winter flu jab among vulnerable younger people were not as high as hoped.

Frontline health and social care workers, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions are entitled to another Covid jab this winter, as are those aged 50 and over.

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Speaking at a council meeting on Monday, Ms Eaton also predicted a new wave of Covid infections would hit Leeds after Christmas.

People are being urged to get their winter flu and coronavirus vaccines. Picture: PAPeople are being urged to get their winter flu and coronavirus vaccines. Picture: PA
People are being urged to get their winter flu and coronavirus vaccines. Picture: PA

The numbers of people currently in intensive care with the virus are very low, although local hospitals are treating very high numbers of flu patients.

Asked for a vaccine update at a meeting about climate change, Ms Eaton told councillors: “What seems to be happening with both Covid and flu vaccinations is that, both nationally and in Leeds, we are seeing really good take-up among those people who are most at risk of both Covid and flu.

“So in care home residents and older people over the age of 65, we have very high levels of vaccination. It’s around about 81 or 82 per cent in those groups.

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“What we are facing is a drop off among some of the younger groups who are at risk, but who aren’t taking up the vaccine as much as we’d hoped.”

Ms Eaton said take-up rates for the jabs were around 40 per cent among eligible under-65s and around 21 per cent for pregnant women specifically.

She added: “There’s a lot of work to be done on advising and supporting people that there’s a need to come forward and that it’s something they’d benefit from.

“In those older groups we’re doing really well. But there’s an element of vaccine complacency that’s come in this year.”

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Ms Eaton told councillors that Covid “is still very much with us”, but said an estimated two per cent of the local population is likely to be infected, in line with national trends.

She added: “With the current modelling, we’re expecting to see a wave of Covid. The latest thinking is that’s likely to be after Christmas rather than before Christmas, but there will be another wave.

“Obviously we know hospitals are still under an incredible amount of pressure and at the moment we’ve got a very, very high number of acute respiratory infections, including flu, in the system.

“Thankfully the Covid wave hasn’t coincided with this flu wave, which is the good news.

“But it’s still going to come, so there will be a prolonged period of pressure (on the health service).”

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