Published: 05:00, 14 January 2022
| Updated: 15:02, 14 January 2022
NHS chiefs should send out vaccinators door-to-door in some of Kent's most deprived areas to increase uptake, says a councillor.
Labour’s Dave Wilson says a more direct approach could help those who have not been able to access vaccine hubs, such as those at the Sea Cadets centre in Canterbury.
It comes as latest figures reveal there are nine neighbourhoods in the county where fewer than 40% of residents have had a booster jab, including two in Canterbury.
The national average is 61%.
On the government’s interactive map, in the Canterbury Barracks area – which encompasses parts of Northgate and Barton wards – just 37.2% of people have had a third dose. In the Blean Forest, Chartham Hatch and University ward the figure is 38.7%.
In contrast, in Chestfield and South Tankerton 77.7% have had a booster.
On Boxing Day, it was reported that the government was considering sending door-to-door teams to five million unvaccinated people across the country.
Cllr Wilson, who represents Barton ward, wants to see such a policy in action in the “pockets” of Canterbury where uptake is low.
“The government needs to change its approach,” he said.
“If we are serious about treating this crisis we need to make sure we go out to unvaccinated people and make sure they see getting the jab is the right thing to do.
"It’s a significant benefit for those not boosted and for everyone else as well.”
Cllr Wilson believes uptake has been lower in deprived areas due to much of the communication being digital, with some people not having internet access. Others may have struggled to travel to GP surgeries or vaccine centres.
A spokesperson for the Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said door-to-door jabs was an option being considered.
"We are really pleased with the vaccine uptake across Kent and Medway, as people from all communities have stepped forward to have their first, second and booster vaccine," they said.
"At the moment, the booster completion rate in the county is 81% and we have given more than one million boosters.
"Our overall take-up rate for first and second vaccinations is 84% and 92% respectively.
“We know there are still some areas, including those in Canterbury, where uptake is a little lower, so we are working with councils, GPs, community groups and other stakeholders to better understand who these groups are and why they haven’t had their booster vaccine.
"These people have already had their first and second vaccines and we need to fully understand why they haven’t had their boosters.
“We’ll be looking at how we can best engage with these groups of people. This could include a door-to-door campaign, if appropriate."
The area in Kent with the lowest booster uptake is Luton in Chatham, where just 33.2% have had a third dose.
Last week, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said people were 90% less likely to end up in hospital after having a third jab – which significantly increases protection against the Omicron variant.