How the NHS in Leeds is tackling Covid in Harehills - with the lowest uptake of vaccinations in the city

The NHS in Leeds is proactively looking to tackle a growing issue in Harehills - where the vaccine uptake rate among eligible people is the lowest in Leeds.

By Daniel Sheridan
Monday, 24th January 2022, 7:10 pm

In Harehills South, just 37.8 per cent of eligible people have had their first Covid vaccination, according to government figures.

This is in contrast to city-wide figures which show an uptake of 76.3 per cent for the first vaccine.

Figures for Harehills South also show less than half of those eligible have taken the vaccination, with 47.4 per cent of people having their first dose up to January 17.

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Salma Arif, Leeds City Council's Executive Member for Public Health and Active Lifestyles, is also a Gipton and Harehills ward councillor.

In the over 60 population in Harehills, the most at risk from Covid, 71.5 per cent of people have had their first dose, 69.5 per cent their second and 71.3 per cent their booster.

However, younger generations are not taking the vaccine at a similar rate to those across the rest of the city.

The Yorkshire Evening Post has spoken to the NHS in Leeds, a local councillor and residents to try and discover what is being done to tackle the numbers in the area.

Speaking to the YEP, a spokesperson for the NHS in Leeds said targeted communication has been adopted in the area to communicate the need for vaccination amongst residents.

In Harehills South (pictured) only 37.8 per cent of eligible people have had their first Covid vaccination. Photo: James Hardisty

Bespoke, targeted social media and printed materials are being used to promote individual clinics as well as national vaccine messaging.

The Cabinet Office multilingual outreach team visited the area in December to answer questions and promote local clinics in Harehills.

The iVan toured the local area from December 18 to 23.

The van promotes Covid messaging and where residents can get a vaccine locally - with further iVan campaigns expected this month and in February.

A bilingual advertising campaign has been running on community radio, broadcasting in both English and Punjabi.

The NHS in Leeds has also used audio translations of key messages and refreshed faith leaders and elected members on the need to promote the vaccination program.

Harehills is a densely populated and diverse area of Leeds which has a higher number of people who are under 40 than many other areas of the city.

Many of the residents would have become eligible for their vaccine later in the program, which also may have impacted the picture the data presents.

Across the area, vaccination clinics have been opened up to tackle the problem of low uptake, the NHS in Leeds said.

Since March, more than 50,000 doses of the Covid vaccine have been delivered at the Bilal Centre vaccination clinic in Harehills - a large proportion were administered to local Harehills residents.

Sam Prince, Senior Responsible Officer for the vaccination programme in Leeds, told the Yorkshire Evening Post that more than one and a half million vaccines had been delivered in the city and he was "proud of the Team Leeds" effort to ensure "that as many people as possible are protected against Covid-19.

“We’re aware that in Leeds, as elsewhere in the country, there are areas with lower take-up rates", Mr Prince told the YEP.

"We continue to raise awareness of the need for a vaccine, ensure ease or access to vaccines within local communities and listen to any concerns to enable residents feel confident in trusted information to take up their vital vaccine.

“We therefore encourage everyone to have a vaccine and to talk to a healthcare professional if they have questions or concerns.

"We know it's not a quick process to change people's minds but we’re continuing to do all we can by taking services directly into local communities and working with community organisations and leaders.

“We also want all residents of Leeds to know that if they haven’t had their vaccine yet, we are there whenever they are ready.”

Donna Hopkins, 41, is a resident of Harehills.

She said she has limited mobility and has found it hard to travel to get a vaccination.

"I am sure I am not the only one", Donna told the YEP.

"I have only seen one doctor surgery offering the jab and that's Bellbrook surgery which had a minimum two week waiting list pre Covid so I dread to think how hard it is to get an appointment now."

However, the NHS in Leeds say numerous vaccination clinics are available across the area.

Salma Arif, Executive Member for Public Health and Active Lifestyles, is a Gipton and Harehills ward councillor.

She said the NHS in Leeds, the council and community organisations were "pulling out all the stops" to make sure no one is left behind in the vaccination rollout.

However, she acknowledged that in Harehills, take up "is not as high" as they would like to see.

“As in all major cities, there are some areas, including Harehills, where take up is not as high as we’d like to see", councillor Arif said.

"That’s why we are taking a really focused and personalised approach to the vaccination programme in those areas.

"This includes clinics in local pharmacies; at school events; converting buses into mobile vaccinations clinics; women-only clinics; and using trusted venues to go into the heart of our communities."

Councillor Arif said the success of the tailored approach is "demonstrated in over 50,000 doses of the Covid vaccine being delivered at the Bilal Centre vaccination clinic in Harehills since March last year".

“It’s important to note that Harehills has a higher number of people who are under 40 who therefore became eligible for their vaccine later in the programme", she added.

"This will have an impact on the picture the data presents."

In Harehills, councillor Arif said she was aware that some people in younger age groups "do not see Covid-19 as a risk to them anymore, particularly following reports that Omicron has been milder than feared".

“There are all sorts of reasons why people may not have had the vaccine yet", she added.

"However, it’s important that people understand that this is only for people who have been vaccinated and that Omicron can still be very dangerous for people who aren’t.”

The NHS in Leeds said the Omicron variant presents an extremely serious threat due to the speed with which it spreads and the sheer number of people who are becoming infected.

If people have not had any doses of the vaccine, coming forward now will provide extra protection.

If you have already had two doses it is important to have your booster to make sure you have a good level of protection, the NHS says.

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Vaccination statistics across Leeds according to NHS data

A total of 1,552,584 vaccine doses have been delivered across Leeds

Of these, 599,566 have had a 1st vaccination (76.3 per cent of eligible GP registered), 552,925 have had a 2nd vaccination (70.4 per cent of GP registered) and 400,093 have had a 3rd / Booster vaccination (55.1 per cent of GP registered).

89.9 per cent of CEV and 86.1 per cent of ‘at-risk’ have been vaccinated

Over 95 per cent of all those 70+ have received at least 2 doses

Over 91 per cent of all those 70+ have received a 3rd dose/booster

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