An army of vaccine volunteers in the South East will help people in hard-to-reach communities to get jabbed, backed by £2.4 million of government funding.
A total of £2,425,000 has been allocated to encourage vaccination uptake in Brighton, Oxford, Reading, Slough and Southampton.
Champions across the South East will be tapping into their local networks and using their trusted voice to encourage people in their community to come forward and get vaccinated.
The funding will enable councils to identify barriers to accessing accurate information and to provide tailored support, such as phone calls for people without easy access to digital technology, helplines, and linking to GP surgeries.
In Southampton videos were shared on social media featuring local sporting stars, TV actors, local community and faith leaders and local NHS staff encouraging communities to get their vaccines.
In Reading the council are developing community transport links to support access to vaccination sites/pop- ups (working with existing local community groups) and considering ‘Grab a Jab’ taxis scheme.
Communities Minister Kemi Badenoch MP said:
“In England more than 80% of eligible adults over 18 have had a booster and for over 50s it is 90%. This is a great take-up so far, but we need to do more as we know that the unvaccinated are up to eight times more likely to be hospitalised than those who are jabbed.
“By funding Community Vaccine Champions – an army of volunteers who are at the heart of their communities – we can reach those yet to be vaccinated and encourage them to protect themselves and the NHS.”
Vaccines Minister Maggie Throup said:
“Thanks to the pace and scale of our COVID-19 vaccination programme, we are in a much better position than this time last year.
“We are doing everything we can to reach those who haven’t yet come forward for their jabs and we know some people are more likely to listen to those they trust, such as community and religious leaders – that’s why we are giving extra funding to our brilliant Community Champions.
“The offer of a vaccine will always be available, it’s not too late. Please come forward as soon as you can so we can learn to live with this virus.”
In December 2021, according to NHS statistics, over 4.6 million people aged 18 or older remained unvaccinated in the 60 local authorities we have selected to take part in the Community Vaccine Champions programme
More than 14,000 volunteers joined the first Community Champions scheme in 2021 – helping the vulnerable and isolated across the country throughout the pandemic.