Neil Coyle has called for those spreading COVID-19 vaccination misinformation to face prosecution as it emerges Southwark was left off a list of boroughs given extra funding to boost vaccine uptake.
Speaking over the weekend, Coyle said misinformation from anti-vaxxers was threatening to limit uptake.
But he also criticised confusing messaging from the government, claiming it had overstated the number of people now receiving immunity by focusing too much on the number of single doses, rather than completed second jabs.
Although 6.9 million people have now had their first dose in the United Kingdom, only one per cent of Londoners had received both injections so far.
Those still waiting for the second jab are still particularly vulnerable to infection – especially in the first few weeks.
Coyle said: “There needs to be a strategy both tackling those peddling misinformation.
“I know one woman has been fined for spreading misinformation on Facebook and I’d like to see more of that, as a specific offence.
“But there also needs to be more support for individuals who have worries about the vaccination.”
He added: “Councils have been busting a gut to deal with Covid and they have bust their resources, they’ve bust the bank frankly and the government is not covering all the costs it promised when COVID hit.”
On Monday the government announced it had awarded £23 million to sixty councils across England to ensure the most vulnerable people were being reached with the help of a network of community champions.
Their job is to help older, disabled, and ethnic minority people access information, tests, and vaccinations.
Southwark and Lambeth were both left out, while Lewisham netted £275,000.
Councillor Evelyn Akoto, Southwark Council’s public health chief, described the decision to omit Southwark, with no clear information about why certain areas were ‘hand picked’, as ‘infuriating’.
As the News reported last week, London was behind other regions in the UK in the first stages of the vaccine roll out.
Sadiq Khan has claimed this is because ministers failed to take into account the larger number of patients per GP surgery.
A large population of unregistered patients and higher numbers of black and other ethnic minority groups could also contribute to lower uptake.
A poll commissioned by the Royal Society of Public Health showed only 57 per cent of black, Asian and minority ethnic people would be happy to have the coronavirus vaccine, compared to 79 per cent of white people.
Some vaccine refusers, from all backgrounds, are concerned about the speed with which the vaccine was developed, or lack trust in the government and NHS.
Others who are Muslim or Hindu have been worried by fake claims that the vaccine is made with pork or meat products. False claims include reports the vaccine alters your DNA or affects fertility.
The government’s cabinet office now has a whole unit dedicated to tackling misinformation including conspiracy theories and false vaccine claims, believing many to be circulated by ‘hostile states’.