• Thursday, June 30, 2022

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Councillors plan new scheme to boost Slough’s worst vaccinated area

A man receives a vaccine at the Chelsea FC pop up vaccine hub in London. (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

By: James Bagley

CONCERNED councillors plan to develop a new scheme in a bid to boost Slough’s worst vaccinated area.

Despite over half of the borough’s population being fully vaccinated, the town has one of the lowest uptakes in Berkshire.

This concern was raised by councillor Rob Anderson (Lab: Britwell and Northborough), lead member for environmental services and transport, at an outbreak engagement board meeting on August 4.

His worry homed in on the Chalvey ward, claiming half of its population has not been jabbed and that its vaccination rate is “one of the worst in the country”.

According to Public Health England figures, 37.48 per cent of its over 12,500 population have had their second dose whereas about 55 per cent have had their first shot, placing it as one of the worst vaccinated areas in Slough.

Some of the reasons could be down to vaccine hesitancy being prevalent in that area as well as Chalvey having a large BAME (black, Asian, and minority ethnic) population who may not speak English as their second language or at all.

Speaking at the meeting, councillor Christine Hulme (Lab: Central), who lives in Chalvey, said: “Our communications do need to be in different languages. We can’t just stick stuff out in English and expect people to pick this up.

“We’ve got large numbers of households where we have people who don’t even speak English as a first language or at all. So, our communications strategy has to be a lot sharper and more focused.

“I don’t think it’s right to swamp the entire ward because people in the ward have had the vaccine, but can we do a bit more work in terms of targeting those households, those streets, those neighbourhoods within the ward that need some proper hard work in terms of communicating the message.”

Tracey Faraday-Drake, from the NHS Frimley Collaborative of Clinical Commissioning Groups, suggested a scheme where Chalvey councillors could link up with the local GP surgeries and target areas in the ward where vaccination is very low, and encourage those residents to get their jab either by the phone or face-to-face.

Meanwhile, councillor Natasa Pantelic (Lab: Cippenham Meadows), lead member for social care and public health, suggested the council engages with Chalvey community groups to spread their vaccination message.

In terms of communication, the council’s new public health consultant, Sohail Bhatti, said it should be in video form with respected leaders speaking different languages to drive their message to all ethnicities.

(Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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