Members of the public queue to receive a dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, at a temporary vaccination centre set up at Walthamstow library in north east London on December 18, 2021. (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
AN additional £22.5million in funding and an army of vaccine ambassadors have been deployed across the UK to encourage vaccine uptake in the run-up to Christmas and the New year, a statement said.
The department for levelling up, housing and communities’ community vaccines champion scheme will target 60 local authorities with the lowest vaccine uptake.
It will be used to run events in communities across the country and to fund pop-up vaccination centres in places of worship. This includes in North Lincolnshire where an Imam has run pop-up vaccination clinics and information sessions in his Mosque, and in Great Yarmouth, community champions have made doorstep calls in areas where vaccination rates are low.
The community caccine champions will also work with councils to identify barriers to accessing accurate information and to provide tailored support, such as phone calls for people who are digitally excluded, helplines, and linking to GP surgeries, the statement added.
Around 900 people will also form ‘street teams’ and visit 21 popular areas across England, including Liverpool One Shopping Centre, King’s Cross Station and Brighton Pier, every day from Sunday (19) to Christmas Eve to urge people to get their jabs.
Extra pop-up sites and new vaccine centres in prominent locations will also be set up. The teams will be distributing leaflets on the Get Boosted Now campaign, as well as information on vaccination.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said: “We are in a race between the virus and vaccine and we are doing everything in our power to get jabs in arms as quickly as possible. “We are calling on people to Get Boosted Now as part of our national mission to reinforce our wall of defence against the rapid spread of Omicron.
“I want to thank the thousands of people who have heroically stepped up to support our vaccine drive. We’re all in this together – please play your part.”
According to the statement, each team of vaccine ambassadors will have a branded van, six staff, banners and leaflets containing information on vaccines and Covid-19. The teams are comprised of people who speak 33 different languages between them.
They will cover the entire country – from Newcastle to Brighton – in areas where there is likely to be a large number of people, including council-organised Christmas activities, supermarkets, train stations.
Vaccines minister, Maggie Throup said: “It is extremely important everybody gets their Covid-19 vaccine now – whether this be your first, second or booster dose.”
More than 14,000 volunteers have joined the Community Champions scheme – helping the vulnerable and isolated across the country throughout the pandemic. The government has launched the community vaccine champions scheme – with local people using their trusted voice to encourage people in their community to come forward and get vaccinated.
Faith minister Kemi Badenoch MP said: “In the past year, I have seen first-hand the outstanding work of councils, faith groups, the community and voluntary sector up and down the country helping the people in their local areas during the pandemic.”
Data published by the UK health security agency shows vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic infection is substantially reduced against Omicron with just two doses over time, but a third dose boosts protection back up to over 70 per cent.
According to the statement, a total of 750 armed forces personnel have been drafted in to support the deployment of booster vaccines across the UK and extra vaccine centres and pop-up sites have opened.
Emily Benbow, a street team member, said: “It’s so important to get vaccinated which is why I’m working with the NHS and speaking to the public on the ground and reminding them of the importance of getting vaccinated.”