Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Our roller-coaster ride: the infection rate sky-rocketed in Hastings during the second wave in December and January. Now it is below the national rate in both Hastings and Rother.

Coronavirus statistical update: Few new infections, though vax rates low in Hastings

Infection rates in Hastings are among the lowest in the country, but so are vaccination rates. Meanwhile the government has decided to introduce testing for all. Text by Nick Terdre, research and graphics by Russell Hall.

Hastings has been through a roller-coaster ride where infection rates are concerned, having in the early months of the coronavirus been relatively untouched, but over the turn of the year finding itself suffering some of the highest levels of new cases.

The latest lockdown has seen the situation brought back under control, and according to data published by Public Health England for the week ending 31 March, the borough’s seven-day rate was just 4.3 cases a day, putting it in top place among the 315 lower-tier local authorities in England.

Across all the 380 UK local authority areas only the Outer Hebrides (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar) and the Orkney Islands have a lower infection rate, both with zero cases a day.

Hastings was closely followed by Rother in eighth place, with a rate of 9.4. Lewes (19.4) was in 69th place and Wealden (25.4) was in 109th, but Eastbourne (33.7) lagged in 169th place in England.

Infection rates in all the lower-tier local authorities in East Sussex are now running below the national average, though in Eastbourne the rate has gone up since schools reopened in early March and in Wealden it has started climbing again in the last couple of weeks, as the interactive chart below shows.

However the vaccination campaign has not gone as smoothly in Hastings as elsewhere in East Sussex and nationally. According to the National Immunisation Management Service, the number of people in the borough aged 50+ who had received a first dose of vaccine up to 28 March was 32,983, or 83.2% of the local population in that age group. That puts Hastings in 270th place among lower-tier local authorities. (The Office for National Statistics, which uses a different population estimate, makes the proportion 86.1% and ranks the town in 295th place – the lowest in England outside of London.)

The situation is better in the other East Sussex local authorities. For Rother, the number vaccinated was 48,064, equivalent to 91.4%, putting it in 99th place, while Wealden was ranked 105th, Lewes 106th and Eastbourne 181st.

Drilling deeper into the data, courtesy of Russell’s calculations, we can see that the localities (middle layer super output areas -MSOAs) with the lowest proportions of vaccinated over 50s are Central St Leonards (71.7%), Central Hastings (72.1%) and Braybrooke & Bohemia (79.8%). Central St Leonards is in 6,236th place out of 6,791 MSOAs, equivalent to 92nd out of 100, and Central Hastings in 6,213rd place, or 91st.

The more highly vaccinated parts of town look better from a national perspective. Conquest & St Helens, where 90.3% of the age group had received a first jab, is in 2,939th place, equivalent to 43rd out of 100, and Ashdown, with 88.7%, was in 3,674th place, equivalent to 54th out of 100.

The differing vaccination rates across Hastings neighbourhoods have a near perfect correlation with levels of deprivation (Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.92, where 1 indicates perfect correlation) – the higher the level of deprivation in a neighbourhood the lower the vaccination rate.

There is greater reluctance to take a vaccination among more deprived groups, which would partly explain the relatively slow roll-out. There is also anecdotal evidence that some residents are being offered a jab in Bexhill or Eastbourne rather than in Hastings, which may indicate that capacity in the town is too low – it is still restricted to the main venue at Hastings Centre and Laycock’s pharmacy in Ore.

In the UK as a whole, some 37m jabs have been delivered, the government reported on Monday. In addition to 31.6m who have received a first dose, 5.4m have also had a second. The first dose figure is equivalent to about two thirds of the adult population.

Universal testing

Meanwhile the government has announced the roll-out of testing to the whole adult population, due to come on stream on Friday. It wants everyone over 18 to get tested twice a week using lateral flow tests (LFDs), which give a result in about 30 minutes; as well as self-isolating, those testing positive will be asked to take a confirmatory PCR test.

The move has been prompted by the government’s desire to develop a certification system or vaccine passport for monitoring entry into indoor venues, which is proving a contentious issue.

However, regular testing of a very high proportion of the population will enable the health authorities to get a better grip of the prevalence of Covid-19, especially among those who have the virus but display no symptoms – thought to be about one in three of all those infected.

Community mass testing is already being offered to all who request it by many local public health authorities, but East Sussex is currently only providing it on a limited scale. “Symptom-free testing is available for anyone who leaves home to work, volunteer or provide care, or is part of a household or bubble with nursery, school or college age children or young adults, or who works in one of those settings but isn’t being offered testing by the setting,” its website says.

The government plans to offer availability to testing, or test kits to be self-administered at home, in various ways:

  • a home ordering service, which allows people to order lateral flow tests online to be delivered to their home
  • workplace testing programmes, on-site or at home
  • community testing, offered by all local authorities
  • collection at a local PCR test site during specific test collection time windows
  • testing on-site at schools and colleges.

Home kits can be picked up from East Sussex sites offering PCR testing:

  • Ore Valley College, Hastings TN34 3TT
  • 1-7 Wainwright Road, Bexhill TN39 3UR
  • Fort Fun Princes Park Car Park, Eastbourne BN22 7LQ
  • Devonshire Park 80 Colllege Road, Eastbourne BN21 4JJ
  • South Road Car Park, Hailsham BN27 2AU

And from the following locations:

  • J Anderson, 164 Harold Road, Hastings TN35 5NH
  • Bexhill Library, Western Road, Bexhill TN40 1DY

Asymptomatic tests can also be booked at the following pharmacies:

  • Laycock Pharmacy, 494 Old London Road, Hastings TN35 5BL
  • Day Lewis Pharmacy, 25 Mount Pleasant Road, Hastings TN34 3SB
  • Day Lewis Pharmacy, 7 Parkstone Road, Hastings TN34 2PS
  • Clarity Pharmacy, 28 Kings Road, St Leonards-on-Sea TN37 6DU
  • Lloyds Pharmacy, 44 Turkey Road, Sidley TN39 5HE
  • Day Lewis Pharmacy, 2 Furness Road, Eastbourne BN21 4EY
  • Day Lewis Pharmacy, 10 Freshwater Square, Hamlands Estate, Eastbourne BN22 0PS
  • Proctor Healthcare, 69 High Street, Polegate BN26 6AH.


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Posted 18:29 Tuesday, Apr 6, 2021 In: Covid-19


Please read our comment guidelines before posting on HOT

  1. Nick Terdre

    As part of the rollout of its universal, twice-a-week testing campaign, the government has now provided a link for online ordering of home test kits ( Kits can also be collected from test sites and participating pharmacies, as detailed in the article.

    Comment by Nick Terdre — Friday, Apr 9, 2021 @ 10:04

  2. Russell Hall

    The most local data on 2nd doses published is for all residents of East Sussex. Using the National Immunisation Management System (NIMS) population figures 2nd dose take up to 4th April in the different age-bands is as follows (number of 2nd doses in brackets):

    Under 50 4.1% (12,627)
    50+ 16.0% (43,075)
    50-54 9.3% (3,871)
    55-59 9.6% (4,198)
    60-64 8.2% (3,191)
    65-69 6.5% (2,304)
    70-74 8.0% (3,150)
    75-79 21.5% (10,215)
    80+ 48.9% (20,052)

    Comment by Russell Hall — Thursday, Apr 8, 2021 @ 19:47

  3. Peter Wiles

    Thanks for another informative article. I wonder whether there are figures for progress with second jabs in the various vulnerable groups in Hastings? Tomorrow it will be ten weeks since we had our first (Pfizer) jabs at Hastings Centre so we are patiently waiting for the invitation to the second.

    Comment by Peter Wiles — Thursday, Apr 8, 2021 @ 15:45

  4. DAR

    Yes, thanks for this info.

    Comment by DAR — Thursday, Apr 8, 2021 @ 13:49

  5. chris hurrell

    Thanks for another well researched and well written article from Russell and Nick. The Hottie articles have been invaluable in keeping us informed over the last year.

    Comment by chris hurrell — Wednesday, Apr 7, 2021 @ 09:57

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