Community vaccination team hop on the bus to reach more people with lifesaving vaccine
The Norfolk and Waveney Health and Care Partnership has joined forces with Norse Group to launch a mobile vaccination bus service.
From today, a mobile vaccination team bus will visit specially chosen sites across Norfolk and Waveney; vaccinating people in areas where vaccine uptake has been lower than average or where virus transmission rates remain high.
Community venues, places of worship, large food production facilities, homeless hostels and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller sites are just some of the places that will benefit from convenient, on-site access to vaccinations.
The local NHS, County Council and district councils are also planning to provide future on-bus vaccinations to other individuals and communities that find visiting a permanent vaccination site more difficult through lifestyle or hesitancy in using mainstream health services.
NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has commissioned the mobile vaccination model, working closely with Norfolk County Council’s Public Health team.
Norse Transport and TFM Solutions (both part of the Norse Group) have provided the specially adapted bus, replacing seats and handrails with booths and equipment, and creating observation areas for people who need further medical treatment.
The on-board community vaccination team – including immunisers and support staff - is being provided by Norfolk Community Health Care NHS Trust. As well as making access to a vaccine easier and more convenient, their clinicians will take time to answer questions and address any concerns or hesitancy on board the bus.
Public Health teams and district councils are playing an instrumental role in the planning of locations and vital engagement with target communities to reassure and encourage uptake. Volunteers from aligned community groups will also help by providing provide peer and stewarding support.
Zoe Nash, Vaccination Programme Manager from Norfolk Community Health and Care, said: “This is a flexible, mobile vaccination service. Most appointments will be made by invitation, however, some time slots will be available to walk in patients, provided they are eligible within government guidelines.
“We know that we need to tailor the service to the specific communities we are serving – this is the opposite of one size fits all!
“We are committed to constantly learning and adapting so we can shape the service to meet the needs of those we want to reach out to. This may mean providing women only clinics, accommodating people with learning disabilities or sensory impairments and providing a supportive service to people with low level anxiety or mental health problems.”
Melanie Craig, Chief Executive of NHS Norfolk and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Put simply, this bus will save lives. Vaccinating the maximum number of people possible is key to us all getting back to some sort of normality. The vaccination programme is essentially about reducing the harm and loss of life that COVID-19 causes, but it is also crucial in us keeping schools open, supporting business and the economy to thrive and improving people’s health and wellbeing.
“People are missing social contact, meals out, a drink in the pub, holidays and a haircut – a successful vaccination programme will help to make these things possible again.”
Dr Louise Smith, Director of Public Health in Norfolk, said: “Vaccination is an important part in our fight against COVID-19. We know that some people find it difficult to take up the offer of the vaccine for a variety of reasons and this roving vaccination service will make it easier to get your vaccine in the areas in Norfolk and Waveney where uptake of the vaccine is lowest.”
Dean Wetteland, Chief Executive of Norse Group, said: “We are delighted to be part of this important initiative, helping more people in harder to reach communities access vital vaccinations.
“Since the start of the pandemic, Norse has managed the mass distribution of PPE and emergency food parcels as part of the county’s Covid response, and more recently we were called upon to set up and manage the county’s mobile Lateral Flow Testing Teams across Norfolk. This mobile vaccination service is another way that we can lend our support to keeping people safe in the communities we serve.
“With the bus transformed and ready for action, we are excited to be part of the rollout of this innovative and potentially life-saving new service.”