Covid vaccine champions aim to boost Black Country's sluggish jab rate

Vaccine ‘champions’ will attempt to persuade people to take the Covid jab.

Health chiefs want more people in the Black Country to have their booster jabs
Health chiefs want more people in the Black Country to have their booster jabs

Wolverhampton, Sandwell and Birmingham will benefit from £740,000 of a £22.5 million pot to encourage people to come forward.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities says the funding will also help 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. Vaccine levels in parts of the region are well below average.

Nationally, more than 90 per cent have had at least the first vaccine and more than 62 per cent have had the booster.

But in Wolverhampton only 46 per cent of over 12s have had a booster and more than a quarter haven’t had any jabs. In Sandwell the booster jab take-up is 44 per cent and 26 per cent of people haven’t had any jabs. Communities Minister Kemi Badenoch MP said: “We know that the unvaccinated are up to eight times more likely to be hospitalised than those who are jabbed.”

It comes as a further 13 coronavirus deaths have been confirmed in the region’s hospitals, official NHS figures show. It means the total number of hospital deaths in the Black Country, Staffordshire and Birmingham have risen to 8,926.

The UK recorded a further 174 deaths in hospitals on Friday, bringing the total number to 102,937 deaths. A total of 52,051,876 people have received a first jab, 47,836,785 have received two doses and 36,191,724 a booster dose.

“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 vaccinations were vital if the West Midlands is to learn to live with the virus.

“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.”

According to NHS figures, in December 2021 over 4.6 million people aged 18 or older remained unvaccinated in the 60 local authorities 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.

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