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Slough's 'vaccine champions' recognised by Government

Slough has been featured as a case study in the Government’s COVID-19 vaccine uptake showcasing its community champion scheme.

The plan – published on Saturday, February 13 – provides an overview of how the Government will intensify its efforts to work in partnership with communities to increase vaccine uptake.

It states that £23million of funding has been allocated through a community champions scheme to 60 councils and voluntary groups.

This money can be used to support those most at risk from COVID-19 and boost the vaccine uptake amongst older people, disabled people, residents from areas of deprivation as well as people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

The plan states that Slough suffers from a lower uptake of immunisations across a range of vaccines including Influenza, Measles, Mumps and Rubella (MMR) and Human Papillomavirus (HPV).

It adds: “Research suggests that vaccine myths remain prevalent in Slough. For some parts of the community, cultural reasons present a challenge to vaccination uptake.”

The community champion scheme has been running in Slough since September after being set up by the One Slough partnership led by Slough Bough Council, Slough CVS and the East Berkshire CCG. By the end of 2020 there were 600 of them. The case study adds that by the end of December the champions role developed to become ‘vaccine champions’.

The partnership has provided training and information sessions to the volunteers on how to talk about the vaccine and mitigate the impact of disinformation, Training has also been offered to those wanting to help out at vaccination centres to support logistics and community engagement.

Councillor Natasa Pantelic, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “We’ve seen a lower uptake of the vaccine by BAME (black, Asian, minority ethnic) groups as reported at the outbreak engagement board however there are public engagement events taking place by our public health team, GPs, NHS colleagues and other partners to reduce vaccine hesistancy and better inform the local community.

“When residents are called to have their vaccine, I’d strongly encourage them to make their appointments straight away.”

Visit the NHS website for more information about vaccinations and www.slough.gov.uk to view last week’s outbreak engagement board which covered the ongoing vaccination programme in Slough.

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