Ministers meet vaccine staff and volunteers as Government aims to boost uptake
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Anyone eligible for a vaccine who has not yet had a jab is being urged to come forward to get one, as ministers meet staff and volunteers in an effort to highlight the importance of the rollout.
Vaccine uptake in the over-75s is at 93% in England, the Department of Health said, as it aims to get the highest possible take-up in all other groups.
A plan focused on uptake and published by the Government on Saturday aims to boost numbers in the vulnerable and under-served groups, by partnering with community organisations and charities to address hesitancy around the jab, dispel myths spread on social media and improve access.
As part of the push to get people jabbed, various Government ministers are also taking part in visits and virtual meetings across the country.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is due to visit Lord’s Cricket Ground to meet doctors, nurses and volunteers, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson will hear from military personnel helping at the Whitemoor Lakes site in Staffordshire and Home Secretary Priti Patel is volunteering at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara Temple in Bedford.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak will speak with healthcare staff at Leeds United’s Elland Road ground while it serves as a vaccination centre, and Environment Secretary George Eustice will have a virtual tour of Stithians showground in Truro to thank local NHS workers.
The Government is set to hit its UK-wide target of offering a Covid-19 vaccine to people most at risk by Monday, after England and Wales said those groups had been reached.
NHS England said the top four priority groups in England – people aged 70 and over, care home residents and staff, health and care workers and clinically extremely vulnerable patients – “have now been offered the opportunity to be vaccinated”.
But for those who have not taken up the offer, Professor Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, said they “have not missed their chance” and urged them to come forward and make an appointment.
The Department of Health said evidence from the rollout to date had shown the “vital” role played by health and social care staff and community leaders in giving advice and information to their local communities.
Vaccines 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 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, the department said.
Examples of initiatives in some areas include a mobile vaccination service in Crawley, launched by the GP Federation Alliance for Better Care, to reach those who are housebound or less physically mobile, and social media resources being produced by the OneSlough Partnership to dispel vaccine myths and boost uptake.
In Bradford, people have been able to ask questions and share information through virtual women’s exercise classes and befriender services, and elsewhere short films have been produced by NHS England and NHS Improvement to provide accessible information about the vaccines for people with a learning disability.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “It is so important that everyone aged 70 and over who hasn’t yet had a vaccination comes forward this weekend and contacts the NHS to book in their jab.
“Vaccines are the way out of this pandemic and it is testament to the strength of our Union and the combined power of our United Kingdom that we’ve seen such incredible progress in the rollout of our vaccination programme.”
Chris Hopson, the chief executive of NHS Providers, said trusts “will welcome strengthened collaboration between the government, national bodies, charities and health organisations” as part of the plan “to build upon successful local initiatives and innovations, so that disparities can be eliminated”.