London's NHS director visits vaccination centre with MP 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.
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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.
"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.