A The latest push to bite young Londoners was underway on Friday as thousands go unvaccinated and risk spreading the virus or suffering from Covid for a long time.
It came as one of the capital’s chief nurses issued a blunt warning that the membership of teens and young people in their twenties had “plummeted” into the mistaken belief that they were “invincible.”
Pippa Nightingale, head of the North West London deployment, said previous problems with too few vaccines to meet demand had been reversed – clinics now had plenty of doses but not enough people showing up.
The latest figures show that only 8,185 first jabs were given in London on Wednesday. The capital is currently over two million first and second doses of government targets for “freedom day” on Monday.
But, on a positive note, NHS chiefs were rushing to make additional appointments for a mass vaccination event at Tate Modern on Friday night after 1,200 slots were filled.
The event, in the Art Gallery’s Turbine Hall, runs from 5-9 p.m., with DJ and influencer Zoe London spinning tunes while people wait for their jab. Appointments will be accepted.
Other ‘festival-style’ mass clinics are also being hosted this weekend by Chelsea and Spurs and at The Oval cricket ground in a bid to lure the ‘Instagram generation’ to catch a jab.
There will also be pop-ups at Wandsworth Common, Greenwich Park, Camden Market and Weavers Fields in Bethnal Green to take advantage of the warm weather.
Over 100 street pharmacies offer walk-in jabs.
The number of Londoners testing positive for Covid each day rose to 5,743 on Thursday, with the highest rates among the 20-24 age group.
Ms Nightingale, chief nurse at the Chelsea and Westminster NHS Trust, said ‘the hardest thing we are facing right now’ was the shortage of people showing up for a jab.
She said the vaccination centers were only operating at 30% of their capacity. Frontline sources told The Standard that among those who came forward, more than two-thirds are over 40 looking for a second shot to get them on vacation abroad.
Ms Nightingale said: “We had the challenge of having people and not vaccines – now we have the flip side, where we have absolutely a lot of vaccines and people don’t come forward. “
She said the over 18 age group was as “difficult” to attract as feared. “They behaved exactly as we expected,” she told advisers. “They really think they’re resilient, they don’t need the vaccine, they’re not going to be admitted to intensive care. “
A study today found that young adults admitted to UK hospitals during the first wave of covid were almost as likely to suffer complications as those over 50. Four in 10 of people aged 19 to 49 have developed problems with their kidneys, lungs or other organs.
Professor Kevin Fenton, head of public health in the capital, warned young Londoners that they risked “being infected and running the risk of becoming covid for a long time”.
Writing in Friday’s Standard, he said they have a “moral responsibility” to look after each other to avoid a further spike in cases as restrictions are lifted.
Analysis of the latest vaccine statistics from NHS England shows that only 13 of 33 wards are close to or have met the government’s target of doubling two-thirds of adults by Monday.
Eight boroughs have currently doubled less than half of their adults, with the rate in Tower Hamlets being the lowest at 39.7%.
Many people looking for a second jab are turned away because they haven’t waited eight weeks since their first jab, triggering a growing number of confrontations and abuse of vaccination center staff.
However, some drop-in pop-up centers – where an NHS number is not required – are known to offer second injections to people as soon as three to four weeks after their first dose, in an effort to ensure that supplies are exhausted.
Professor Fenton, speaking to the BBC in London on Thursday evening, admitted that the capital “has had a particular challenge in raising our rates, compared to other regions”.
He said vaccination was the “most important” intervention available to stop the spread of Covid – long before masks were worn.
Asked about the end of legal restrictions on Monday, he said: “You will never hear me call it Freedom Day. I think that term in itself gives us the feeling that the pandemic is behind us and that we can let our guard down. This is exactly the opposite of what we will need.
A full list of vaccination sites in London can be found here.