NHS in push to offer first jab to final four million

NHS in push to offer first jab to final four million

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More than four million adults in the UK have not yet had a first Covid jab, and 16 million have not had a booster.

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NHS vaccine teams have been out on the streets trying to win over those hard-to-reach groups who might have struggled to access health services in the past.

"In Portsmouth, we have still got a large percentage of the population - 20% - who haven't had their first jab," says Carole Phillips, an NHS clinical director and former army medic.

Carole and a colleague are out jabbing people at a walk-in clinic based in the Recovery Hub - a local centre aimed at the homeless community.

Barry Wilson, 53, arrives for his first jab of Pfizer. He has been living rough, or in a hostel, since 2015 but says he has "done his research" and is worried about the virus, especially with his underlying health problems - he has the lung disease chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

"I feel like one of the lucky ones because I've never had Covid," says Barry, "so I just keep putting [the vaccine] off and off."

There is an element of vaccine scepticism driven by social media and rumour on the streets. But often it comes down to access to health services.

The hope is that a countrywide Covid vaccine drive could have a longer term benefit and break down barriers between the NHS and these groups. Staff say the wider ambition is to tackle other health inequalities which have persisted for generations in some communities.

"We have to reach out to these people, regardless of their lifestyle, to protect all of us in the end," says Carole.

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