Plan launches to boost vaccine uptake among vulnerable and minority groups - including vaccination buses and WhatsApp groups

Monday, 15th February 2021, 3:48 pm
Updated Monday, 15th February 2021, 3:48 pm
There has been a 93% vaccine uptake for the Covid-19 vaccination programme (Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

On Saturday 13 February, the Government published its Covid-19 vaccination uptake plan, which sets out the Government’s approach to ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to get vaccinated.

The plan outlines how the Government and NHS England are partnering with directors of public health, charities and the faith sector to increase vaccine uptake and ensure equal access.

The uptake plan sets out “best-in-class real-world” examples of community-led engagement to improve vaccine uptake that other areas could replicate to drive uptake.

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The examples the Government gives includes:

  • A branch manager at MiHomecare, a domiciliary care provider in North London, noticed her staff were initially hesitant to take the vaccine, so she shared a video of herself getting a vaccine on her workplace social media and WhatsApp group - this led to a noticeable increase in staff vaccine uptake
  • The GP Federation Alliance for Better Care have launched a mobile vaccination service in Crawley, staffed by members of the community, to reach those who are housebound or less physically mobile
  • NHS England and NHS Improvement have produced short films to provide accessible information for people with a learning disability including autism, about what a vaccine is, how it’s made and how to decide whether to get vaccinated

‘93% vaccine uptake’

The Government says: “Data published today [13 Feb] shows comparable vaccine programmes achieved a 75 per cent uptake rate, but so far, the Covid-19 vaccination programme has exceeded expectations, seeing 93 per cent uptake in those over 75 years of age.

“Our aim remains to achieve the highest possible uptake in all other groups.”

Vaccine Deployment Minister Nahdim Zahwai said: “We have seen an incredible response so far from the public to the vaccination programme and are on track to offer everyone in the top priority groups a jab by 15 February.

“We recognise that some groups feel more hesitant about getting a jab, or have more barriers, both physical and mental, preventing them from accessing one when it’s offered.

“Each shot in the arm brings us closer to beating this terrible virus. That’s why we are setting out our plan to make sure everyone is protected equally, by working hand in hand with those who know their communities best to make sure as many people as possible take up the offer of a lifesaving vaccination.”

‘Encourage everyone to get vaccinated’

Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch said: “Covid-19 affects everyone, whatever their background.

“Life saving vaccines need the trust and confidence of every community to protect us all from the virus. That is why the Government is working with local figures, faith leaders, and doctors to combat misinformation and encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”

NHS top trauma surgeon and volunteer vaccinator Dr Martin Griffiths said: “Thanks to the fantastic efforts of hard working NHS staff and volunteers, the largest vaccination programme in the health service’s history has now jabbed four in five people aged 70 and over - but it’s not too late to come forward.

“Black, Asian and minority ethnic people are disproportionately affected by Covid-19, so it’s really important they get the vaccine.

“I’ve had it myself but understand that each person has their own specific reasons why they are hesitant and I want to ensure every person I see understands the vaccine is safe and effective as this will help us all get back to as normal a life as possible.”

Over 13 million people vaccinated

Two months since the start of the vaccination programme rollout, over 13 million people across the UK have taken up the offer of the vaccine.

Vaccinations are being administered at 267 hospitals, 1,034 local vaccination sites, 90 vaccination centres and 194 community pharmacies.

Over £23 million in funding has been allocated through the Community Champions scheme to 60 councils and voluntary groups across England to expand work to support those most at risk from Covid-19, and to boost vaccine uptake.

This is part of the £7.9 billion government funding provided to councils to help them support their communities during the pandemic.