Ruby Gregory looks at local efforts to ensure that the community, and all its individual members, are protected by vaccination from the Covid-19 epidemic
Despite Lambeth’s famed diversity, central government ignored the borough when handing out £23m to help London local authorities communicate the importance of vaccination to communities most at risk from Covid-19.
Money from the Community Champions scheme was allocated to a total of 60 UK local authorities in January, but Lambeth and neighbouring Southwark were not included.
Lambeth council leader Jack Hopkins and cabinet member for health and social care Jim Dickson are still waiting for a reply to their letter to communities and local government secretary Robert Jenrick asking why.
Cllr Dickson spoke to the Blog about the vaccination campaign in Lambeth and establishing confidence in it in the community.
“It is really important that we approach people’s concerns in an understanding and positive way,” he said.
“We need to bring all our communities with us during this vaccination campaign, we need to be united if we are going to succeed.
“It is in all our interests to bring everyone along on this journey and we cannot leave anyone behind.”
According to data published by NHS England on 4 March, almost 18 million people have now been vaccinated; more than two-thirds were classified as white British.
A review, Build Back Fairer: The Covid-19 Marmot Review, published last December, highlighted social and economic inequalities in public health that existed before the pandemic.
It recommended specific action to address the root causes of health inequalities as well as the need for significant national attention on the issue.
NHS South East London Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) provides local care in Lambeth, Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lewisham and Southwark and is working closely with Lambeth council to encourage vaccine intake.
The group announced online that more than 324,000 vaccinations had been administered across the six boroughs by mid-February.
South East London CCG holds additional governing body meetings hosted on Zoom where the public can attend and ask questions.
Cllr Dickson said: “We will continue to work hard to reach diverse communities with messages of reassurance and sharing insights from trusted community leaders about why they have chosen to take the vaccine.
“Our Islamic community leaders, our Christian Church leaders and our medical professionals from Black and minority ethnic communities are crucial with this ongoing work.”
Alan Gadd, a trustee of Faiths Together in Lambeth said: “There is a general lack of confidence, but plenty of people within our organisation are delivering messages.”
In an online post, Umar Mahmoud, vice chair of the Independent Advisory Group for Lambeth Metropolitan Police Service, said that vaccines will protect lives and help return to a normal life.
He said: “Many of us have seen friends, family and colleagues hospitalised with Coronavirus.
“Many of us have lost loved ones.
“We need to pull together as a community to get through this.”
Head online to South East London CCG for advice and the latest updates on the vaccination programme.