Vaccine push for ethnic minority groups in South Tyneside after figures show low take-up

South Tyneside Council is planning a vaccine push in three wards to increase uptake of the Covid-19 jab within minority ethnic groups.

Friday, 4th June 2021, 6:07 pm
Health workers prepare covid vaccines.

According to data revealed by health chiefs last week, the borough’s vaccination programme has already administered around 152,000 doses to residents.

However, following reports about low vaccination rates in certain wards, a scheme is being developed to unearth the reasons behind the trend.

The proposals include trained volunteers visiting minority ethnic communities in the Simonside and Rekendyke, West Park and Westoe wards and the potential for new pop-up vaccination centres.

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West Park councillor and cabinet member for independence and wellbeing, Anne Hetherington, outlined the proposals to councillors at a Riverside Community Area Forum (CAF) on June 1.

“As you know, the vaccine take-up I think across South Tyneside has been extremely good but there are some of our minority ethnic groups where things are not quite as good as we would like them to be,” she said.

“One particular group is our Asian Indian population and predominantly the numbers [take-up] are in three wards which just happen to be within this CAF [area] – Simonside and Rekendyke, Westoe and West Park.

“The numbers as percentage of population there are extremely low compared to other take-up areas at 17%.

“The nearest one to that is a 30% take-up so you can see that there’s quite a significant difference there.

“So working with the voluntary sector through Inspire South Tyneside and the [Covid] Community Champions, there is a proposal over a three to five week period, to have focused engagement in those three wards where the community champions will be out.

“To identify what we need to do, we need to know the reasons behind the lack of the take-up of the vaccine offer.”

Cllr Hetherington said she was made aware of the issues with vaccine uptake last week and that there was now a “structured proposal on the table.”

Covid Community Champions would be trained to go out into communities to discuss with individuals what their issues are with the vaccine.

The meeting also heard that there had been some discussions around establishing pop-up vaccine centres, subject to feedback on suitable locations.

Councillors on the Riverside CAF welcomed the proposals and suggested potential venues for the pop-up vaccine centres in the three affected wards.

Meanwhile, councillor Angela Hamilton said South Tyneside Council could adopt schemes being used elsewhere in the North East.

This included ‘multi-generational vaccinations,’ the use of a ‘vaccine bus’ or publishing videos in alternative languages.

Cllr Anne Hetherington said the council will be publishing videos from a broad range of community champions – a role created to promote the latest Covid-19 guidance and the vaccine.

She added: “I think initially the engagement with the community themselves is the key to finding out what their issues are and then we can look at ways to address those issues going forward.”

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