Significantly lower vaccine uptake among black and minority NHS staff has caused national and local worry that the virus could spread "like wildfire" through certain at-risk communities on the front line.

The latest vaccine figures reveal that as of last week, fewer than a quarter of black members of staff at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust have been vaccinated, compared to well over half of white staff members.

Similar statistics at other trusts in and outside London, although south east London appears particularly bad, have sparked nationwide calls to try and encourage more ethnic minorities to get their Covid-19 jabs.

On Wednesday last week, Nadhim Zahawi, Government vaccine minister, told the London Assembly that the coronavirus could spread "like wildfire" through unvaccinated communities because of a reluctance to take the jab.

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Recent polls carried out by the Royal Society for Public Health also found that just 57% of people from ethnic minority backgrounds were likely to get vaccinated, despite statistically being at greater risk from the virus.

And with clear differences between vaccine uptake with different ethnic breakdowns inside hospitals, its feared that vaccine hesitancy will hurt those most vulnerable to the virus.

At Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, just 24% of black staff members had been vaccinated, compared with 52% of Asian staff members and 60% of white staff.

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According to The Independent, similar numbers at the Royal Free Trust in north London had seen just 25% of black staff given jabs, the lowest for all vaccinated groups.

A spokesperson for the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust told The Independent: “While ultimately the responsibility sits with individuals to accept the vaccination invitation, we are strongly advising colleagues to get the vaccine and are having regular discussions with our staff equality, diversity and inclusion networks, as well as with community leaders.

“A number of colleagues from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups are actively promoting the vaccine to colleagues by dispelling some of the myths circulating on social media while talking about their positive experiences of taking the vaccine.”

Habib Naqvi, director of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, said: “We are concerned at growing anecdotal evidence of low uptake of the vaccine amongst black, minority ethnic staff.

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"Given the disproportionate impact on NHS frontline and healthcare staff, who represent up to a fifth of the NHS workforce, it is vital that informed decisions, based on fact, are made when the vaccine is offered.

It was reported last week by the News Shopper that south east London had the slowest vaccination rate for any region in the country for over 80s, with most of London lagging behind. Our Healthier South East London were contacted for comment.

However the local programme has begun to catch up, with over 70s in south east London miles further ahead than most.

Earlier today (February 11), Health Secretary said the rollout of coronavirus vaccines was "absolutely essential" for summer holidays to take place later this year.

Mr Hancock, who has already booked a break in Cornwall, urged people to be "patient" over the prospect of getting away.

"I know that people are yearning for certainty over whether they can have a summer holiday, but pandemics are difficult times and there is a lot of uncertainty, so I am afraid that people will have to be patient before we can get that certainty," he told BBC Breakfast.

"We are doing everything that we possibly can to make sure that people can have a holiday this summer but the vaccine rollout is absolutely essential to that.

"We will set out more in more detail when we can, but at the moment unfortunately there is that uncertainty still."