Almost 70,000 people in Norfolk have now had first Covid jab
- Credit: Denise Bradley
More than half of over 80s in Norfolk and Waveney had had their first Covid jab, as NHS chiefs prepare to open another 12 large vaccination centres.
NHS data, released for the first time on Thursday, shows 36,809 first doses of the vaccine have been given to over 80s in the region. The remaining half are expected to receive a first dose by the end of the month.
Another 30,588 first jabs have been given out to under 80s - 3pc of the population.
In Suffolk, only a third of over 80s have had the first dose - the lowest figure of anywhere in England. Across the country, 60pc of over 80s have now had their initial jab.
Priority groups are care home residents, healthcare staff and anyone aged over 70.
However, fewer than half of care home residents and a third of staff have had the vaccine so far, as teams cannot visit homes which have had an outbreak.
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A spokesman for Norfolk and Waveney CCG said the “vast majority” of over 80s would be vaccinated this week, particularly those able to travel to a site or who live in a care home.
They added: “It may take us a little longer to get to all those who are housebound across Norfolk and Waveney as this is more complicated, but they should still all be offered a vaccine by the end of January.”
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Alex Stewart, from Healthwatch Norfolk, hailed the figures as impressive, particularly given the pressure on the NHS.
"Staff are working tirelessly and when I visited a vaccine centre in King's Lynn this week there was really lovely atmosphere."
Professor Paul Hunter, from the University of East Anglia, said the figures showed the rollout was going well, but warned it would be several weeks before it had an impact on infection rates and deaths.
He said it took around two to three weeks for a vaccine to protect someone.
"To see any affects, I would estimate about half of a population would need to be immunised, so what you should see first is a steep decline in the number of over 80s that get it which is great as they are the ones most likely to die."
The numbers being vaccinated are expected to soar in the coming weeks as 21 GP surgeries and health centres in Norfolk and Waveney are now giving out doses, along with a large centre at Norwich’s Castle Quarter.
Another 12 large centres, similar to Castle Quarter, have been approved in the region and will open in February, but NHS bosses have not said where these will be.
The region’s hospitals are also playing a crucial role. The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital said almost 90pc of its staff have had their first dose and it has been asked to vaccinate another 26,500 health and care staff by mid-February.
Second doses of vaccines are being given after 12 weeks and the figures show 8,837 people have had a second jab out of the 67,400 vaccinated so far in Norfolk and Waveney.
However there has been some controversy over whether the second jab should be delayed.
The Government decided to delay the second dose of the vaccine so that more people could receive the first dose faster.
But the World Health Organisation has said it should only be delayed for up to six weeks.
The British Medical Association has backed calls for second doses of the vaccine to be offered as soon as possible.
And an online petition protesting the decision to delay the second jab has gained 200,000 signatures.