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The Covid 19 vaccine – working together to support older Londoners to stay safe

Published on 15 February 2021 12:19 PM

On Monday 8th February, Age UK London ran an event in partnership with the Greater London Forum for Older People, with guest speaker Martin Machray who is the London Region Joint Chief Nurse as well as the Covid Incident Director for NHS London.

There were 60 attendees from across Greater London representing many London borough Pensioners Forums as well as other older peoples groups and organisations.

Martin Machray, who has been working as a nurse for 35 years, started by reminding us all what the pandemic had done to us: the number of deaths still about 100 per day and 4,500 still in London hospitals with Covid-19 on Monday 8th February. It is a life taking, family ruining virus and we must do all we can to get on top of it. 

The strategy is to protect the most vulnerable. If you are 80 and over and you catch Covid-19, you are 70 times more likely to die than other age groups which is why the vaccine programme has focused on age first. In 2 months, 1.3 million Londoners have been vaccinated but 20% of the over 80 (approx. 300,000 people) have not taken up the vaccine even though it has been offered to them.

6 reasons for vaccine hesitancy or non-take up:  

  • Risk - people want to know it's safe 
  • Confidence that it works  
  • Lack of trust
  • Location of vaccine centres
  • Convenience of appointment
  • Negative endorsements of the vaccine and the spread of misinformation

There are 3 main factors around vaccine hesitancy:  

  • Gender - men are more hesitant than women to take up the vaccine
  • Economics - The poorest 10% of society are more hesitant but are also more likely to catch the virus  
  • Ethnicity – If you identify as white British or Indian you are 90% likely to take up the offer of the vaccine. If you identify as Caribbean or African in your heritage you are half as likely to take up the vaccine and that is because of the earlier issues trust, access and trusted sources of information.