Half of Leeds adults have had Covid-19 jab, claims senior councillor in Covid battle milestone

More than half of all adults in Leeds have had at least one Covid-19 vaccination, a senior Leeds councillor has announced.

Thursday, 22nd April 2021, 8:40 am
At least half of Leeds' adult population have now had the Covid jab

Leeds Council’s executive member for health Coun Salma Arif told a meeting of fellow councillors that the milestone had just been reached, while work was ongoing to increase the take-up of the vaccine among BAME communities in the city.

Concern had been raised at the start of the vaccine roll-out about reluctance among some communities in the city to take it, and health chiefs say a “long term” approach is needed to increase uptake of vaccinations generally in all parts of Leeds.

Coun Arif told a meeting of the council’s decision-making executive board: “We have vaccinated 50 per cent of our adult population – it’s a significant milestone for our city. It is testament to our city and the testament to every single individual.”

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“We are taking steps to increase uptake of the vaccine in all communities in Leeds. The heart of the planning is the principle that nobody is left behind – the approach is not about the numbers of people vaccinated, it is about ensuring that we’ve reached those most at risk of severe illness.”

She spoke of the drop-in clinics at the Bilal Centre and the Infinity Centre, both in Harehills, claiming the tide was now turning among older members of BAME communities who had been most reluctant to take up vaccinations.

“I was there this morning,” Coun Arif added. “The clinics are seeing numbers increase on a weekly basis. I’ve seen from the very beginning how confidence in these communities has grown and people are walking in and getting the jab.

“The key element is that it is a trusted community centre at the heart of the community.”

Leader of the Leeds Conservatives group Coun Andrew Carter said: “I welcome the paper – it is very positive. Elderly members of BAME communities who are still taking up the vaccine to a lesser degree to people of the same age in the white community.

“But the younger generations of the BAME communities are beginning to take up the vaccines. What are we doing to promote among family members the need to take up the vaccine?

“If there is scepticism about authority, then to get younger members of different communities who have had the vaccine to persuade older family members to get the vaccine.”

Coun Arif said: “It was something that was recognised. Originally there was hesitancy, but with the provision of local community centres and community leaders encouraging the vaccination, I am anecdotally hearing that there is a shift that is happening.

“There are different reasons why people were originally hesitant, but the numbers are now narrowing down.”

Leeds City Council’s director of public health Victoria Eaton added: “This is something that has been heightened through Covid but has been there for other vaccinations. The issue is not new.

“This will need to be an ongoing long term challenge – this is not going to be a quick fix for the next few months.”