While uptake of the life-saving vaccine among eligible groups has been generally very high, GPs are reporting more hesitancy among some Black and Minority Ethnic communities.
To encourage more people to get their jab and make it more accessible, a team from Wolverhampton North Network Primary Care Network visited the Jamia Masjid Bilal and the UKIM Madinah Masjid mosques, the Gurdwara Nanaksar Thath and the Wednesfield Seventh Day Adventist Church on Sunday to administer the first dose of the vaccine to eligible members of their congregations.
Dr Shahid Rafiq, clinical director, Wolverhampton North Network Primary Care Network: “We were delighted to organise outreach pop-up vaccination clinics in religious centres across the city. These clinics were in addition to our main vaccination service at Keats Grove Surgery, which has been very successful and has already vaccinated thousands of Wolverhampton residents.
“A specially selected team of doctors and nurses was put together in order to ensure cultural sensitivity, communicate effectively and alleviate language barriers. In addition to administering vaccinations we were able to discuss mistrust and disinformation surrounding the vaccine.
“Overall the clinics were well received and we hope that this will encourage more people to come forward from these groups and to join us at future clinics.”
Sally Roberts, chief nurse, Black Country and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: "GPs across the Black Country and West Birmingham are taking the vaccine directly to communities, as well as offering appointments in their surgeries, care homes and for those housebound patients – and this includes outreach in faith settings, as part of a wide campaign to ensure people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities feel confident taking up the offer of a jab.
"My message to everyone as the NHS hits an important target to have vaccinated people most at-risk of Covid-19, is to get your jab when it’s offered, and for those people in the top priority groups, please get in touch directly to book your appointment.”
Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council's cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, added: "It's crucial that everyone has their jab when they are invited to, because that is the only way in which we are going to beat this terrible virus.
"Uptake of the vaccine has been remarkably high among most groups which have already been offered it, and we're starting to see the impact it is having, with a big fall in the number of hospitalisations and deaths, particularly among more vulnerable older people.
"However, we know that some communities are, for whatever reason, less likely to have the jab and so we are working hard with health colleagues to tackle rumours or misinformation which is causing any reluctance or hesitation. We must all encourage family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and their wider community to get vaccinated and help to stop the spread of the virus.”
One of those who had their jab at the weekend was Clarence Crosdale.
He said: "Although some people are apprehensive about the speed in which the vaccine has been developed, it needed to be accelerated to deal with the pandemic and I am satisfied that it has gone through the necessary processes. If it's going to provide the protection that we need, I think it is sensible to go for it."
Everyone aged 65 and over, care home residents, health and social care workers and people who are clinically extremely vulnerable have either already been offered or are now eligible for the vaccine.
Once these groups have been vaccinated, they will then be followed in order of priority by those over 16 with underlying health conditions, then the over 60s, the over 55s and the over 50s.
The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) is due to recommend which groups should then follow. For details of the priority list, visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
For more information about the vaccine, including the answers to frequently asked questions, visit wolverhampton.gov.uk/vaccine.