'Big push' in Lancashire to persuade the vaccine hesitant to get their Covid jab
The NHS in Lancashire and South Cumbria is set to redouble its efforts to encourage those who have not yet taken up the offer of a Covid vaccine to do so.
Almost 95 percent of over-65s in the region have so far received an initial jab. That age group is one of the main cohorts to have been prioritised for a first dose, in line with a list drawn up by the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
However, frontline health and care staff, and those classed as extremely clinically vulnerable or at clinical risk if they contract Covid-19 were also amongst the first to be offered a vaccine. A total of 561,794 people across Lancashire and South Cumbria had received their first dose by the end of February.
It was announced earlier this week that the NHS is now issuing vaccine invites to the over 60s.
Fylde coast GP Dr. Amanda Doyle told a board meeting of the region’s integrated care system (ICS), of which she is chief officer: “We are starting a big push on moving down the cohorts and pushing uptake [amongst] those very small numbers of people that have been hard to reach in the cohorts that have already had access to the vaccination programme.
“[There will be] a real focus on people who are displaying hesitancy to be vaccinated for whatever reason that might be.
“There are some groups of health and care staff [and] some particular BAME [Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic] communities who are less keen to take up the vaccine and we’re working very hard [on] that,” added Dr. Doyle.
The meeting heard that the region had already received “national attention” for its engagement work with BAME communities via the Lancashire Resilience Forum, the organisation which is co-ordinating the local response to the pandemic.
Board members were also told that plans are currently being drawn up to start to administer second doses of vaccine across Lancashire and South Cumbria “in the next couple of weeks”.
A national decision to extend the original three-week gap between jabs to 12 weeks took effect from early January. That means only 14,892 residents in the region have so far had a second dose – and the 12-week window is starting to open for those who were vaccinated at the start of the year.
Dr. Doyle said that “significant increases” in vaccine supply were expected in order to enable both elements of the vaccine programme to run alongside each other.
“Obviously we want to continue delivering first doses at the same pace, so it’s a real step-up in the campaign.
“We have got to make sure that we have the capacity stood ready to deliver – and we are confident that we can do that.”