Thousands of COVID-19 jabs will be available at the Den this Saturday as the fight to contain spiralling COVID-19 cases continues ahead of ‘freedom day’.
The mass vaccination event, the first of its kind in the borough, will offer Pfizer jabs to anyone over the age of eighteen who are yet to receive a first dose. Second Pfizer doses will also be available if it has been at least eight weeks since the first jab was given. No alternative vaccine will be available.
The landmark event at Millwall comes as cases of the more transmissible Delta variant, a COVID-19 strain first identified in India, have rocketed in the UK, leading to fears the illness is ripping through younger, unvaccinated age groups.
Confirmed cases rose by a shocking 72 per cent in Southwark last week as new health secretary Sajid Javid warned that, nationally, new cases could reach 100,000 a day by August.
COVID-19 is now surging through the under-18s, with around 640,000 school children unable to attend school last Thursday due to self-isolating after being exposed to cases within their bubbles.
Despite the alarming figures, Javid defended the prime minister’s announcement that freedom was coming at last, with almost all restrictions ending on July 19 as planned in a bonfire of COVID-19 regulations.
Johnson told the nation on Monday that social distancing and limits on group meet-ups would be scrapped; face masks would no longer be compulsory; the work from home order lifted; and all businesses including night clubs could reopen.
The end of lockdown as we know it did not come without some words of caution.
The PM urged people to not be ‘demob happy’ and instead take ‘personal responsibility’; warning that we will all be living with COVID-19 for some time yet.
Since then, the government has also confirmed school bubbles will also end on July 19 and that double-vaccinated people will no longer need to self-isolate after coming into contact with positive cases from August 16 onwards.
The decision to open up has split scientists and government advisers; many of whom fear escalating cases could still overwhelm hospitals despite the vaccination drive marching forward.
The UK recorded over 28,000 new cases in just 24 hours on Tuesday, figures not seen since December 2020. However, back then daily deaths were around 400 a day and are now far lower, with 37 daily deaths recorded at the time of going to press.
The key factor is a wall of immunity now the majority of the most vulnerable have been double jabbed, with other age groups including those in their 50s, 40s and 30s not far behind.
According to the latest estimates, 86.2 per cent of the UK’s population has had at least one dose, while over two thirds have now received two (64.3 per cent).
But London is still lagging behind. By last week, just 59 per cent of the eligible adult population in Southwark had taken up the offer of a first dose, and only 36 per cent of adults had received both – giving them maximum immunity.
Having both jabs is critical as research shows being fully vaccinated still offers very good protection against the Delta variant, now responsible for 99 per cent per cent of new cases across the country.
Research shows the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are more than 92 per cent effective against hospitalisation and serious disease after two doses.
But just one jab is only 26 per cent to 40 per cent effective at reducing symptomatic disease.
The success of the vaccination programme is now critical in south London, especially in areas where uptake has been low.
As we reported last week, vaccine hesitancy is waning – particularly among black and Asian minority groups who are increasingly coming forward to take up the vaccine offer.
Health officials from Southwark Council and South East London Clinical Commissioning Group have been pulling out all the stops to try and stop a third wave from devastating the borough and causing a rapid increase in hospital admissions.
Cllr Evelyn Akoto, cabinet member for health and wellbeing at Southwark Council, said: “With rates of COVID-19 rising again, especially among younger adults, we need to tackle the virus head on with our best protection – the vaccine. We’re calling on everyone over 18 from Southwark and beyond to put in a strong defensive play by booking themselves a vaccination slot at The Den this Saturday. Pfizer will be on offer, both first and second doses which we know give much better protection against COVID-19 than just the one.”
This weekend’s mass vaccination event is the next step in a series of increasingly interventionist policies including door-to-door knocking, leaflet drops and pop-up vaccine clinics.
The News also understands more mass vaccination events are being planned in conjunction with other, neighbouring boroughs in the coming weeks.
Pfizer vaccinations are available from 8am to 8pm on Saturday, July 10, at Millwall Football Club, Zampa Road, London, SE16 3LN. To book a slot please visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/strengthen-your-defence-beat-covid-19-get-the-vaccine-tickets-162412150113. Walk-ins are also available.
Details of all vaccination clinics and events across Southwark, Lewisham, Lambeth, Greenwich, Bromley and Bexley are also regularly updated on this page. https://selondonccg.nhs.uk/what-we-do/covid-19/covid-19-vaccine/pop-up-clinics/