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Reaching out to people in priority groups who have yet to have their COVID vaccine

People in the priority groups for the COVID-19 vaccine who have yet to respond to their invitation for a first dose are to be the focus of a new scheme set up by Oxfordshire councils, the NHS and GPs.

The service is launching this week to help support those people if they want to have the jab. There are a range of reasons why people may have not arranged a vaccination – from difficulties in booking an appointment or arranging transport, to hesitancy or misunderstandings about the vaccine.

Outreach workers from the community hub teams of the city and district councils across the county will be visiting residents who have not had a COVID-19 vaccine and offering them support to get an appointment if they want one. The outreach workers are from experienced teams which have been visiting residents who are shielding or self-isolating throughout the pandemic. They will be dressed in clearly identifiable clothing, carry an ID, and follow all social distancing guidelines. Residents will be visited by teams from their local council.

Ansaf Azhar, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Public Health, said: “It has been hugely encouraging to see such large numbers of people being vaccinated locally and nationally – hundreds of thousands of people are being vaccinated each day. However, we must make sure that everybody is given every opportunity to have this hugely important protective jab. That is what this new scheme is about. It will add real value to the vaccination programme in Oxfordshire.”

Dr Kiren Collison, GP and Clinical Chair at Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “GP practices are working closely with the outreach workers to make sure that people who are eligible for a vaccine, but haven’t had one, are given the help they need. They might be unable to book an appointment or need more information and these teams can help with this.” 

Councillor Emily Smith, Leader of the Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Take up of the COVID vaccination has been very high, but there are some people who need help or further information before taking up their invitation to get their jab. We’re happy to be providing some of our district council staff as friendly faces to help people in the priority cohorts to make their appointments and do their bit to protect their families, neighbours and communities.”

People are also still being urged not to contact their GP practice directly with enquiries about the COVID-19 vaccine. GP practices are getting a high number of calls from patients asking about the COVID-19 vaccine. This means that people who need to contact their GP because they are unwell are not able to get through.

Everyone will be vaccinated in due course; the purpose of priority order is to make sure those most at risk of dying from COVID-19 or becoming very unwell from the virus are protected first.

You will be contacted by your GP when it is your turn to be vaccinated; alternatively if you are eligible you can book an appointment via the national booking system.

Councillor Lawrie Stratford, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: “We want this outreach programme to be a valuable means of ensuring that everyone who wants the vaccine is supported to get it and that nobody gets left behind in the rollout of Oxfordshire’s vaccination programme as it moves through the different priority groups.”