Hardly anyone in Lozells – consistently one of the city’s worst hit areas for coronavirus – has yet to receive a vaccine, according to local research.
Only one GP practice in the area has been given any doses of the Pfizer vaccine so far as part of the first wave of the rollout of jabs, our inquiries have revealed – though there are plans to open another location ‘in the next few days’ as the pace of vaccination steps up significantly.
The area features in a ‘top ten’ of the parts of Birmingham which are experiencing the highest infection rates, based on the most recent seven days when data is available – up to January 1st.
Also badly affected now – as they have been throughout the pandemic – are the neighbourhoods of Sparkhill, Sparkbrook, Hall Green and Handsworth Wood.
Cllr Waseem Zaffar, who represents the Lozells area, urged health chiefs to target worst hit areas first.
“Unfortunately, Lozells has consistently featured towards the top of covid charts,” he said.
“The vaccination programme is the only way out and yet in a survey of Lozells residents I carried out, nine out of ten have neither been called for a vaccine or are even aware of anyone being called for a vaccine.
“Many have contacted me enquiring about the vaccination programme and when they and their vulnerable family members will be vaccinated.
“The community is ready to step up and help as volunteers and also offer community settings to facilitate the vaccination programme.”
He said it was vital that neighbourhoods like Lozells, which have consistently high covid rates, get extra resources and an effective vaccination programme.
The area currently has a Covid infection rate of more than 800 per 100,000 people.
Latest data at neighbourhood level reveals that Lozells East – a micro area of around 7,000 residents in Lozells – currently ranks third worst in a chart of the areas with the highest covid case rates.
Some 76 new cases were reported in seven days up to January 1st, giving an infection rate for the neighbourhood of 977.
Only Hall Green East and Hall Green Central fare worse, with both having infection rates topping 1,000 – as our graph below illustrates.
Cllr Zaffar spoke out as the first batches of the much-vaunted new Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is set to arrive in Birmingham and the Black Country.
MPs Liam Byrne (Lab, Hodge Hill) and Andrew Mitchell (Cons, Sutton Coldfield) joined city council leader Ian Ward in pressing for total transparency over the vaccine situation.
The letter, signed on behalf of all city MPs, calls for:
- A day by day account of number of jabs given, take-up and refusals, by area
- A list of all organisations delivering vaccines in Birmingham and to whom they are accountable for progress
- The proportion of vaccines delivered by hospitals, and by GPs.
- A realistic forecast at the end of each week of how many vaccinations are expected to be administered in the week ahead, with assurances that supplies of vaccines to the city will keep pace with demand.
- A named individual in charge of vaccination for each constituency
In his role as a West Midlands mayoral candidate, Mr Byrne has separately called for a new taskforce to mobilise delivery of the vaccine across the region, targeted in hotspots and using a network of community locations and pharmacies to deliver it rather than rely on mass vaccination centres.
A spokesperson for West Birmingham and Black Country CCG, which oversees the local vaccination programme, said the Modality Primary Care Network (which includes a GP practice in Lozells) went live in Wave 1 and they have vaccinated ‘a proportion’ of their over 80s.
She said a further site which covers Lozells is preparing to go live in the next few days, with more details to follow.