South Tyneside gets £565,000 to help tackle 'life-threatening' fake news and boost take-up of covid vaccine

South Tyneside has been granted more than £500,000 to tackle ‘life-threatening’ fake news around the covid vaccine, and encouraging people to get the jab.

Tuesday, 26th January 2021, 12:43 pm

The North East has been given almost £2million in total from the Government to spread accurate information about the virus, particularly among those at greatest risk – the elderly, the disabled, and BAME communities.

And South Tyneside Council is taking the lion share with an award of £565,000. Neighbouring Sunderland is receiving £510,000, Newcastle was awarded £311,000, and Gatesead £486,000,

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A health professional prepares to administer the Covid-19 vaccine

It will also be used to support helplines, school programmes, and phone calls to people in at-risk groups, in a bid to expose dangerous misinformation and encourage everyone to get vaccinated.

A recent poll from the Royal Society of Public Health found that just 57% of Black, Asian and minority ethnic people would be happy to have a Covid vaccine, compared to 79% of white people, amid fears about false claims being spread on social media.

As well as getting pharmacies involved in vaccines it also asked the Government to start providing far more easy-to-access information on the vaccine programme – and timetable – to provide families, particularly the elderly and clinically vulnerable, with the reassurance that they’ve not been forgotten.

The Community Champions will be drawn from those populations and asked to share accurate health information with their neighbours and wider community.

Local government secretary Robert Jenrick said: “It is vital that everyone has access to accurate and up to date information about COVID-19.

“False information about COVID-19 vaccines could cost lives.

“Today’s funding will help councils and community groups expand some of the excellent work already underway 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.”

Health secretary Matt Hancock added that it was “vital higher-risk groups are able to access the advice and information they need whether it’s about testing, accessing the NHS or the benefits of a lifesaving vaccine”.

The North East has been one of the most successful areas for rolling out the vaccine, which has led to reports of vaccine supplies being diverted to other parts of the country, prompting anger.

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