Vaccine outreach programme nominated for award

A council's vaccine outreach programme which has so far vaccinated over 1,000 people has been nominated for a prestigious award.

Sandwell Council’s Community Response to Covid-19 programme has been nominated for an award
Sandwell Council’s Community Response to Covid-19 programme has been nominated for an award

Sandwell Council's outreach programme reached out to areas in the borough with low-vaccine uptake, vaccinating through pop-up clinics and teaching people to become vaccine advocates in their community.

The Sandwell Community Response to Covid-19 has now been nominated for the Local Government Chronicle Public Health Award, with the winner to be announced at a ceremony in London on November 4.

Programme co-ordinator Katie Deeley said: "We did some research on flu and vaccine uptake and realised that we could have an uptake issue in Sandwell.

"Vaccination rates tend to be low in more deprived areas.

"We started planning in January because we knew we had a hill to climb, and we hosted our first pop-up vaccine clinic in March."

Pop-up clinics have been held at mosques, gurdwaras, and community centres across the borough, making people feel more at ease about vaccination by being in an environment they already feel comfortable in.

A series of clinics have even been held at West Bromwich Albion's football grounds, The Hawthorns, and every single one is hosted by a volunteer organisation.

The project has also distributed grants to volunteer organisations who have undertaken projects to increase vaccine uptake by giving people reputable health information.

These projects have included webinars, phone calls, and practical support - including providing transport to GPs - to people who were hesitant about vaccination.

Ms Deeley said: "We've been really surprised at the success of the programme.

"There has been such a commitment and drive to get the job done, people have worked with so much passion.

"In public health, things can often take a long time to get set up but this was instant.

"There's the instant feeling that you've made a difference."

70 per cent of people over 12 have now had their first Covid-19 vaccine in Sandwell, with 63 per cent having had two doses.

The project coordinator added: "It's been the highlight of my career. I've never seen anything come together like this.

"I find myself getting teary about it. I feel privileged to have done it."

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