The government has published a COVID-19 vaccination plan which aims to boost uptake in vulnerable and underserved groups.
Published on Saturday, the plan sets out how the government and NHS England are partnering with directors of public health, charities and the faith sector to increase vaccine take up and ensure equal access.
The government said evidence from the roll out so far has shown the “vital role” of health and social care staff and community leaders who are providing advice and information to their local communities.
Data shows that the vaccination programme has seen a 93% uptake in those over 75 years of age. And now the government aims to achieve the highest possible uptake in all other groups.
Vaccine Deployment Minister Nadhim Zahawi said: “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.”
The plan highlights work being done at a local and national level to make sure specific groups, including those with mental illness or without a fixed address, can access the information and advice they need to make a decision on taking up the vaccination.
Building on work already underway to reach more hesitant audiences, which includes translating vaccine resources in over 13 languages, the plan aims to raise awareness of how the NHS is making vaccination accessible to all, especially ethnic minorities, homeless people, asylum seekers and those with disabilities.
Community leaders are being urged to make clear an NHS number is not needed to get a jab and that there are a large number of vaccination sites spread across the country that people can go to.
The uptake plan also sets out best-in-class examples of community-led engagement to improve vaccine uptake.
These include a MiHomecare branch manager in North London who 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.
News of the plan follows the announcement that sixty councils and voluntary groups across England will receive a share of £23 million in government funding to support those most at risk from COVID-19, boost vaccine take-up and tackle the spread of misinformation.
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.”