London's NHS director visits vaccination centre with MP Sam Tarry

NHS regional director visits Redbridge vaccine centre alongside Ilford South MP

The NHS Regional Director for London, Sir David Sloman, visited the Redbridge Town Hall vaccination centre yesterday (February 18) alongside Ilford South's Sam Tarry. - Credit: Sam Tarry

The NHS regional director for London made his first visit to a Redbridge vaccination centre yesterday, amid good news over the borough's rollout programme.

The timing of Sir David Sloman's visit - on which he was joined by MP Sam Tarry - coincides with the latest NHS figures which show that Redbridge residents have received more Covid vaccines than anywhere else in east London.

As of February 18, more than 266,000 vaccinations had been administered in the seven east London boroughs, with around 40 per cent given to Redbridge and Havering residents.

However, the Ilford South MP spoke to BBC Radio London yesterday about a vaccine hesitancy that still pervades certain ethnic groups - particularly the Afro-Caribbean, African heritage and south Asian community.

Acknowledging the borough's huge diversity - estimating it at around 70 per cent minority ethnic - the MP is working with prominent faith leaders to try and build trust.

He said: "We're starting to do pop-up vaccine clinics in majority black churches and in mosques. One of the problems we've had is that there are some really nonsense myths that are being perpetuated on Facebook and Whatsapp."

As well as joining Sir David yesterday, he also volunteers at the centre.

Most Read

He added: "One of the reasons I thought it was important for myself to be spending time volunteering there is to really get that message out to people.

Sam Tarry visits Redbridge town hall vaccine centre

It was Sir Sloman's first visit to a vaccine centre in North East London, and his only visit to Redbridge. - Credit: Sam Tarry

"If they've got a positive experience when they get the vaccination, they'll go home, they'll talk to their aunts and uncles, friends and family, say that was great, it was no problem at all."

He believes issues of mistrust are not only founded in history, but that hesitancy also comes from the fact that "people in Ilford feel really let down by the government".

Pointing to the borough's long-standing high infection rate, he said there are still those who are not "buying into" or "believing" the government's safety assurances. 

However, the numbers show that many do trust in the process, as the MP confirmed some 1,000 people were vaccinated during his latest volunteering stint on Wednesday. 

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter