The St Helens Covid-19 mobile vaccination service bus will be in St Helens town centre on Tuesday 1 June from 1-4pm at the corner of Church Street and Bridge Street just by Boots, offering walk up vaccines to those eligible.
The mobile vaccination bus, which has been trialled over the past few weeks including at Earlestown market and the St Helens Mosque is part of a plan to help improve vaccine access among communities where take-up has been lower. There is already evidence that people in more deprived parts of the borough are less likely to have had the vaccine, as well as those in minority ethnic communities.
Over the coming weeks and months, the bus will visit different locations across the borough of St Helens, reaching out to people who haven’t yet taken up the offer of an appointment at Saints or one of the other vaccination sites available.
The bus is also visiting large workplaces in the borough which have had outbreaks and have numbers of staff who have found it hard to access traditional vaccine appointments due to shift patterns.
Vaccinations on the bus will be offered as a drop-in with a timetable for the coming months being worked up and venues advertised in advance.
Staffed by Primary Care Networks (groups of local GP practices working together) and supported by the CCG and St Helens Council’s testing team, the vaccination bus will offer first dose Covid-19 vaccinations with no appointment needed.
People can receive a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine on the bus if they are aged 30 and over or meet any of the following criteria:
- Are clinically extremely vulnerable (previously asked to shield)
- Have an underlying health condition which places them at higher risk from the virus
- Have a learning disability
- Are an unpaid carer
- Are a frontline health or social care worker.
Anyone under 40 anyone who would prefer an alternative vaccine can access it through the national booking system: https://www.nhs.uk/book-a-coronavirus-vaccination/ The clinician on the bus will talk this through with that age cohort if they are unsure of vaccine options available to them.
The vaccination bus will be supported by staff who will be on hand to provide information, reassurance, and answer any questions people might have about getting the vaccine and what the alternatives are.
Anyone who is in one of the above groups but hasn’t yet received their first vaccination or booked an appointment is encouraged to get vaccinated on the bus when it’s in their area.
Dr Hilary Flett, local GP and Clinical lead for the GP-led Covid-19 vaccination roll out in St Helens said:
“The Covid-19 vaccination programme has been going really well in St Helens since we began with our over 90s population before Christmas. We’ve already provided around 194,000 vaccinations to the people of St Helens at both our mass vaccination clinics at Saints, and our hope is that by taking the vaccination bus into local communities, we’ll be able to reach many more people who may have struggled to get to a clinic so far.
“We also know that some people might feel worried about having the vaccine, and really want to reassure everyone that the Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective. Having it is the best possible way to protect yourself and your loved ones from the virus, and help us all get life back to normal as quickly as possible. Myself and other clinicians will be there to reassure people and answer any questions – so please do visit the bus when it’s in your area, and get vaccinated!”
Ruth Du Plessis, Director of Public Health for St Helens, said:
“Due to the determination of our borough to do the right thing and our commitment to looking after ourselves and each other, our cases are below the national average, with around 13 cases per 100,000 people – however, with the new variant of concern circulating though our testing and vaccination programmes have been working well, we need to remain vigilant.
“Getting vaccinated gives you the best protection against coronavirus, and although some people may have experienced mild side-affects, this is a sign that the vaccine is working and triggering your immune response. It’s also worth saying that feeling unwell after the second dose is much less common, so I encourage everybody to take up the offer of a vaccine when your opportunity arises.”
If you are eligible but have any concerns about getting vaccinated, please speak to your GP or talk to one of the bus vaccination team for advice.