Vaccine bus hailed for boosting take up - but anti-vaxers slammed after targeting vehicle
The use of a ‘vaccine bus’ to boost uptake of the Covid-19 jab across County Durham has been labelled a success by health chiefs.
But health chiefs have slammed anti-vaccine campaigners who have targeted the vehicle, launched earlier this year to offer first vaccinations to people who work and live in the county, health staff and those who are clinically vulnerable.
The refurbished double decker bus has already held several mobile clinics, with recent sessions taking place in Horden, Kelloe, Ferryhill and Seaham on specific dates.
Health staff have been on hand at the clinics to answer questions or to address any issues of “vaccine hesitancy.”
And according to public health bosses and NHS chiefs, the bus has had a real impact in helping to get the vaccine to specific communities, with hundreds of jabs administered so far.
Director of public health for County Durham Amanda Healy, said the bus had been targeted in areas of low vaccine uptake, with some areas overlapping with areas of greater deprivation.
She said 410 vaccinations were administered in one day when the bus went to Horden and 210 people accessed vaccines when the bus was based outside a social club in Kelloe.
The vaccine bus was discussed at a meeting of County Durham’s Health and Wellbeing Board (HWB ) at Durham County Hall.
This came following a presentation on public health campaigns in the county, which covered efforts to increase vaccine uptake amongst hard-to-reach groups.
Chief officer of NHS County Durham Clinical Commissioning Group and vice-chair of the HWB, Dr Stewart Findlay, said the county had a very high uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine, including both first and second doses in each cohort.
But he also described the vaccine bus as a “valuable asset,” which helps to vaccinate people who had been “reluctant to go into a vaccine centre” or have had difficulty getting to mass vaccination centres or GP sites.
Dr Findlay, who is also clinical director of the Covid Vaccination programme across the North East and North Cumbria, explained: “Some people just don’t like to make appointments for things – they would rather just turn up and wait.
“The number of vaccines that we did in Ferryhill the other day was phenomenal, we delivered 668 from a bus, that’s as many as most GP surgeries would have done in their major sites.
“So [the bus clinics] are successful and they are providing for people with slightly different needs and it’s so important that everybody gets vaccinated.
“And it’s very disappointing that people who are anti-vax are protesting at those sites and putting off people, particularly those that are most vulnerable in our society who need protection.
“If people don’t want vaccines themselves, it’s not sensible but it’s fine, but please don’t put other people off getting the vaccine which will protect them and others.”
Dr Findlay added: “We’re now starting to see a lot of young people coming through, we had a fear that the young in society would be more reluctant to have the vaccine because they’re less likely to be hospitalised or die from this disease.
“But actually, we have seen some very very responsible young adults coming forward and doing their bit for society and doing their bit to protect the more vulnerable in society.
“It’s quite emotional to see these people coming through.”