On the buses: Mobile Covid vaccination service is launched
- Credit: Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust
A roving bus service has been launched in a bid to vaccinate people in areas where uptake has been poor or virus transmission rates remain high.
From Wednesday (April 14), a mobile team began visiting chosen sites across Norfolk and Waveney.
They include community venues, places of worship, large food production facilities, homeless hostels and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller sites, which will all benefit from convenient, on-site access to jabs.
Plans are also in place to offer on-bus vaccinations to other individuals and communities, some of whom may find visiting permanent sites more difficult due to their lifestyle or hesitancy in using mainstream services.
The new scheme comes courtesy of a partnership between local NHS services and the Norse Group, who provided the specially-adapted bus by replacing seats and handrails with booths and medical equipment.
Observation areas have been created for those who need further medical treatment.
The on-board team of immunisers and support staff is from Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust.
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Zoe Nash, vaccination programme manager at the trust, said: "This is a flexible service - the opposite of one-size-fits-all. We know we need to tailor it to the specific communities we are serving.
“We are committed to constantly learning and adapting so we can shape the service to meet the needs of those we want to reach.
"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.”
Most appointments on the new bus will be made by invitation, although it is hoped time slots will later be made available to walk-in patients.
As well as making access to a vaccine easier, clinicians will be on hand to answer questions and address any hesitancy.
Melanie Craig, chief executive of Norfolk and Waveney CCG, which has been leading the local rollout and commissioned the roving service, said the bus "will save lives".
She added: "Vaccinating the maximum number of people possible is key to us all getting back to some sort of normality.
"The programme is about reducing the harm and loss of life that Covid-19 causes, but is also crucial to keeping schools open, supporting business and improving people’s health and wellbeing."