Islington ‘particularly vulnerable’ to Covid with vaccinations slowing down, warns public health boss

The Covid death toll in Islington hit 375 last month

A public health expert has warned that Islington is “particularly vulnerable” during the third wave of Covid infections because it has a younger population  who may not have had one or both jabs.

Islington’s acting head of public health Jonathan O’ Sullivan said infection rates have dropped from a July peak of 1,300 cases a week to 400 in the last week – making it amongst the lowest in London.

He pointed out that most of the infections were people in their twenties, followed by those in their thirties, who are less likely to have had one or both vaccines.

Over the last fortnight, however, the highest rates have been amongst secondary school pupils and college students, which could be because there were high rates of testing.

O’Sullivan said the majority of positive test results from lateral flow tests were from secondary school pupils.

He told the health scrutiny committee the work to vaccinate children aged 12-15 could help prevent further disruption to their school life and the impact on their wellbeing.

The vaccine will be delivered until the end of the month and some jabs will be given after half term and even into the following term.

Sadly, 14 more people died of Covid in Islington in August and up to mid-September after three months with no fatalities. This brought the death toll to 375.

O’Sullivan said a mortality audit of deaths from Covid between January and August showed that Asian and Black residents were more at risk.

He said: “We saw that disproportionality again in the second wave.”

He said it “reemphasises the tragedy” and urged communities to think about what they can do to stay safe.

Across care homes, 92 per cent of staff are fully vaccinated and five per cent have had their first jab.

But the number of people getting vaccinated in the borough is slowing down.

O’Sullivan said: “The vaccine is making a huge difference. If you are vaccinated and get the infection, you are less likely to pass the infection on to others. It’s about protecting others.”

According to the latest figures, 154,000 residents in Islington had had their first jab, with 137,000 fully vaccinated, by 22 September.

Depending on population estimates for the borough, this means that between 62 per cent to 76 per cent of people have had one dose of the vaccine, compared with 80 per cent for the whole of the capital.

Just 37 per cent of 20-24-year-olds have had both jabs, which goes up to 49 per cent for 25-34-year-olds, and drops to 48 per cent for 35-39-year-olds.

Meanwhile, most people treated in hospital for Covid are in the 30-50 age bracket and are either unvaccinated or partly vaccinated – a younger age group than in the first and second wave. Doctors said  patients are less likely to need intensive treatment.

Vaccine rates vary across the borough, from 69 per cent in Highbury East to 55 per cent in Clerkenwell having had one dose of the jab.

O’Sullivan said: “Each week in September, 500 to 600 adults were having their first doses. That’s useful but not the thousands we want.”

He said the two mass vaccine events at Arsenal’s Emirates stadium had been helpful. The hunt is on for another venue in the north of the borough to deliver vaccines.

During this next phase, four GP hubs will work with GP practices to get more patients vaccinated and people can also get the vaccine at 11 community pharmacies.