Anti-vaxxer label could stop people getting jabs, health chief warns

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Stuart Keeble, director of public health for Suffolk Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL - Credit: Archant

Suffolk’s public health chief has urged caution on labelling people anti-vaxxers, so as not to drive them further away from getting a Covid-19 jab.

Thursday’s Health and Wellbeing Board meeting was told that around 1,000 people in the county had a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine last week, with around 1,700 getting their second.

Latest data indicates that 87pc of eligible people in the county have had a jab, but people are continuing to come forward.

Health bosses are keen to address disparities across the county, with data earlier this week indicating that one in five people in parts of Lowestoft were yet to be vaccinated, and one in four in east Suffolk yet to have their boosters.

Men are also more likely to refuse a vaccine than women, according to the team.

Suffolk’s director of public health, Stuart Keeble, has urged caution on labelling people as anti-vaxxers.

“I know some people are concerned sometimes and say surely if people have had the chance now they are not going to take it up, but I don’t actually agree with that,” he said.

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“I think we need to be careful about labelling people anti-vax as actually life is complex and people sometimes it takes them a while to make a decision.

“We need to be there and support with conversations to help those people to make sure we don’t drive further inequalities going forward.”

Mr Keeble said some people will have had Covid-19 over Christmas which meant they had to wait 28 days before getting a jab, while the mandatory inoculation for health workers due to come in from April may also trigger some more vaccinations.

He said: “Last week it was about 1,000 people had a first jab and 1,700 had their second so that offer is still very much there.

“It is important to push the message there is no judgement about it. If people want to come and get their vaccine they are there and also people are there to have a conversation if they want to come and have a conversation first.”

He added: “It is now about the conversations – the individual conversations are what is going to really push this forward”.