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Covid19 Vaccination Inequalities

Covid-19 vaccination programme:

The Covid-19 vaccination programme commenced in late 2020, with the first vaccine being given in Suffolk and North East Essex on 9 December 2020. Since then, we have successfully delivered over 2 million doses through a variety of clinics such as hospital hubs, large vaccination centres, primary care, drive-throughs, pop-up centres and mobile services across communities. Collaboration amongst all providers, including voluntary, community and social enterprise services, has been crucial in helping people to learn more about the vaccine, transport them to a clinic, and support them with their social, emotional and practical needs throughout this difficult time.

Watch our film on our learning from the Covid-19 vaccine programme in Suffolk and North East Essex

Understanding the barriers people face in accessing the vaccine:

From the outset we realised that not everyone had equality of access to the vaccine, whether through a lack of knowledge or assurance about its safety, difficulty getting the time away from work or caring responsibilities to access a clinic, or worries about what the experience might involve. In partnership with Mid and South Essex Partnership ICS, we carried out a very detailed Equality and Health Inequalities Impact Assessment so that we could capture as many issues as possible for a wide range of people with protected characteristics and those living with other health inequalities.

  • We drew on local and national data and research on inequalities, both current and historical, recognising that many inequalities are long-standing.
  • We consulted individuals and organisations representing a wide range of communities, asking them about the challenges they faced and what would help them.
  • We ensured our impact assessment was a live document so that we could continually learn about emerging issues, and develop plans to support people’s needs as they arose.
  • Based on what we learned, we co-produced with people and communities action plans around the main themes, below.

You can see the latest version of our Equality and Health Inequalities Impact Assessment here

With the support of dedicated local Equality Leads working in collaboration with a wide range of partners, we have proactively acted upon the findings of the Impact Assessment to ensure the vaccine is available to all who are eligible.

Sharing the right information on vaccine safety and effectiveness, and how to access vaccination:

On 13 January 2021 we launched our dedicated website giving the public, and health and care professionals, information on the Covid-19 vaccines themselves, and where and how people can access their vaccination. The website has been incredibly popular, and a year after its launch is still averaging 13,000 visitors a week, including from outside the UK.

We have also shared information with the public through bulletins, using traditional and social media.

  • We held online and face-to-face community events, where the public can ask questions directly from a panel of experts. These events have been very popular, with sometimes hundreds of participants online.
  • We developed and rolled out a social media campaign with ICS branding to enable diverse community members and staff from a broad range of backgrounds to share their experience of having the vaccination as Community Role Models.
  • We also worked with voluntary, community and faith organisations to ensure people were informed about the vaccine through trusted sources.
Bob receiving a Covid vaccination
Christopher receiving a Covid vaccination
Dean receiving a Covid vaccination
Lauren receiving a Covid vaccination
Overcoming barriers to vaccination:

Our vaccine website has played a key role in informing people about where and how to access their vaccinations, but we have also collaborated with community and faith organisations from marginalised and more vulnerable communities to improve vaccine accessibility.

  • We have co-produced adapted clinic sessions for those who had specific needs related to their cultural or language needs, physical or mental health, or communication needs.
  • We have informed people without NHS numbers about their right to be vaccinated and encouraged them to take up the offer.
  • We have adapted buses as mobile clinics to reach people and communities who have difficulties travelling to clinics, taking these opportunities to also talk to people about other ways to stay healthy.
  • Our Health Outreach Service has been visiting and offering vaccines to people who are homeless, traveller and migrant communities, and others in the most marginalised and vulnerable groups in our society.
  • Our teams have delivered vaccines in care homes, supported housing and in housebound people’s own homes.
  • In collaboration with County Council colleagues in Essex and Suffolk, we have provided a free of charge taxi service and subsidised public transport to enable all who are eligible to visit a vaccination clinic.
  • We have developed simple guides for patients and health care professionals to ensure immunosuppressed patients and household contacts know how to receive the vaccineand worked with Healthwatch partners in Essex and Suffolk to engage with relevant patient groups.
Having a positive vaccination experience:

We have worked to ensure that vaccination sites are welcoming and flexible to adapt to people’s needs, including developing standards for sites including guidance on the needs of people with sensory impairments and needle phobia, and we developed simple guides giving information to staff and volunteers on making adjustments for people’s needs. Everyone receiving a vaccine was given a postcard with sources of welfare advice, and in some sites social prescribers were on hand to signpost people who had been struggling during the pandemic to community support. Data on people’s vaccine experiences is sought through a range of methods, including patient satisfaction surveys and feedback to Healthwatch teams, and this helped us to continually improve our services.

Lyndee holding a Covid card I've had my vaccination
Luke receiving a Covid vaccination
Habib receiving a Covid vaccination
Woman's holding a Covid card I've had my vaccination

Gathering the right data on uptake among people with additional needs and challenges

We have gathered and analysed data from a range of sources on vaccination by age group, gender, ethnicity and locality. We have also improved recording of ethnicity through providing a simple guide for vaccination staff to help people identify their ethnicity and answer any questions they might have. The information we gather enables us to target support to those groups and communities where update is lower, so that everyone has equality of access to vaccination.

Vaccine boosters

We are working hard, in collaboration with a wide range of partners, to ensure that everyone eligible has access to first, second, third and booster doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, with staff from around the health and care system redeployed to support vaccine providers across Suffolk and North East Essex.

Last Updated on 17 October 2023

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