NEARLY a third of people in Southend are now fully vaccinated against coronavirus, latest NHS figures revealed today.

Data shows 47,491 people had received both jabs by May 9 – 32 per cent of those aged 16 and over, based on the latest population estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

Meanwhile in Basildon, more than a quarter of people have received both doses - a total of 42,965.

It comes as concerns grow over the number of cases of the Indian variant in the UK.

Infection rates in various parts of the UK have soared in the past week, with experts blaming the increase on the new variant.

Despite concerns, there is no evidence of a worrying spike in cases across south Essex.

Trevor Harp, Southend Council’s cabinet member for health and adult social care said: “It’s very positive news that we have reached that milestone.

“It’s one third of people that have now had two doses.

“There’s a much higher level of people that have had the first dose.

“I think the vaccine rollout has been a major success.

“What we would ask is for everybody when they’re offered the vaccine to please take it up to protect everybody going forward. At the moment we’re protecting the vulnerable but now it’s about protecting the whole population.”

Southend has seen a slight increase in cases, with 24 recorded in the seven days to May 8. This is up from 18 in the week ending May 18.

Mr Harp has warned people to “be careful” as the UK enters the third stage of the roadmap out of lockdown.

From Monday, pubs, restaurants and entertainment facilities can reopen. Hugging and close contact is also permitted.

Mr Harp added: “People need to be careful as we come out of restrictions. The appearance of the Indian variant is causing some concerns but early indications show the vaccine is affective against it.

“We’re free to hug but please don’t go out hugging everybody. It’s great that we will be able to eat at restaurants and pubs so it’s all to be welcomed but we have to be sensible about it.”