£23million for councils to tackle false information about covid vaccine

The Government is making £23million available to councils in England to help counter misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine and boost take-up of the jab.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said it was being targeted at areas with plans to reach out to groups such as older people, disabled people, and people from ethnic minority backgrounds who are more likely to suffer long-term impacts and poor outcomes from the virus.

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Mr Jenrick said: "False information about Covid-19 vaccines could cost lives.

A health worker prepares to administer the Covid-19 vaccine

"Today's funding will help councils and community groups expand some of the excellent work already under way and reach out to their communities to ensure they have the information they need and get their questions answered.

"Ultimately this funding will help save lives."

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Officials said each of the 60 councils chosen to receive funding through the community champions scheme have developed plans to improve communications with these groups.

They include helplines, school programmes, workplace engagement, phoning those in at-risk groups as well as training sessions to help people provide information and advice.

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Senior NHS figures have previously expressed concern that people in some black and Asian communities are reluctant to take up the vaccine - either for religious reasons or past concerns about "unethical" experiments carried out in the last century.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said that the groups they were seeking to support included Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities as well as faith groups.

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