Mayor, health leaders and communities join forces to ensure no Londoner is left behind in vaccine rollout
- Londoners from all backgrounds and ages are being invited to take part in virtual events to discuss COVID-19 vaccines
- Sessions will encourage open and positive conversations among London’s diverse communities as Omicron cases rise rapidly in the capital
- Mayor makes direct appeal to unvaccinated Londoners as he visits pop-up vaccine clinic at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has announced that a series of virtual events will take place in the coming weeks as the capital’s health leaders and community representatives join together to ensure that no Londoner is left behind in the vaccine rollout.
The Mayor unveiled the series of events and encouraged all Londoners to take up their offer of a vaccine as he visited a mass vaccination pop-up clinic at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge stadium this morning (Saturday 17th).
The virtual sessions will include representatives from NHS London and London’s diverse communities – including Black, Muslim, Jewish and Eastern European communities – to encourage open and positive conversations on the current situation in London and why vaccines are such a crucial part of keeping us all safe.
With Omicron cases rising significantly in every London borough, the remote sessions will give Londoners from all backgrounds and ages the opportunity to ask questions, raise any concerns they may have and receive expert advice on the COVID-19 vaccines, boosters doses and Omicron variant.
London continues to lead the way with the rollout of the booster jab nationally with more than 2.5m doses issued and more than 100 Londoners receiving their booster every minute, but more than one million eligible Londoners are yet to come forward for any COVID-19 vaccines.
The capital’s Black and Asian communities and those living on lower incomes have been impacted disproportionately by the pandemic, and Londoners from minority ethnic backgrounds, and Black Londoners in particular, have been targeted with dangerous misinformation on social media making communities less likely to take up the vaccine.
The new sessions, organised in partnership with the NHS, Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) and community organisations, have been designed to encourage open and honest dialogue and to tackle the misinformation which may be influencing people to not get vaccinated.
It comes as the most recent statistics show that the risk of death involving COVID-19 is 32 times greater in unvaccinated people (1) than in those who have received both doses. More vaccination sites are opening up than at any other point in the programme – including mass vaccination pop-ups at Wembley Stadium and Chelsea FC, and 24-hour ‘jab-a-thon’ sessions in diverse communities like Haringey (2).
Walk-ins are available in many vaccination sites across London, but booking is best, so head to www.nhs.uk/covidvaccine or call 119 to guarantee your jab. New appointment slots are added every day, so while the website is incredibly busy do keep trying if there are queues as you will get an appointment.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Over the last week we’ve seen Londoners of all backgrounds and ages lining up outside our pharmacies, hospitals and pop-up vaccination centres which are working around the clock as part of the biggest booster roll out in the country.
“As cases of the Omicron variant continue to rise, I want to make a direct appeal to the more than one million Londoners who are yet to come forward for any COVID-19 vaccinations – it’s never too late to get your first or second dose. It will help to protect you, your loved ones and our NHS.
“I don’t want any Londoner to be left behind in the vaccine rollout – particularly those communities who have been so badly affected by the pandemic, with the disproportionate loss of both loved ones and livelihoods. That’s why, working closely with leading community groups and health leaders, we’re hosting these Big Conversation sessions to encourage frank, honest and open dialogue on the questions and concerns Londoners have about the safety of the jabs. I urge Londoners to join these sessions, to ask the questions you want answered and to take the right action to protect yourself and your loved ones this winter.”
Dr Vin Diwakar, Medical Director for the NHS in London, said: “It is incredibly important that all Londoners have access to accurate information so they can make the right decision to protect themselves and their loved ones against this virus. The fact is that the more vaccinated you are, the more protected you are against serious illness and we want all Londoners over the age of 18 to complete all three doses. But it all starts with a first dose, so don’t delay even if you’re starting off with your first dose now – the NHS’ offer to get vaccinated is there for everyone.”
Professor Kevin Fenton, London Regional Director of Public Health, said: “We are currently seeing incredibly high numbers of Covid cases in London including the highest daily totals since the start of the pandemic. This growth is being driven by the Omicron variant on top of already high Delta cases. This sheer volume of cases across our city means that even if Omicron is found to have reduced severity, it could still have a big impact on hospitalisations and deaths. But we can turn the tide. Vaccines without a doubt are our best line of defence against this wave of infection but we know that two doses alone are not enough. We need Londoners from all communities, backgrounds and every walk of life, to come forward for the booster and the first dose and second dose before that, so we can bolster our protection and reduce the impact of this spread.”
Michael Hamilton, Director of Practice at The Ubele Initiative, said: “As Omicron spreads, London’s Black and minoritised communities have some pressing and urgent questions to answer about how we respond to this new emergency. How do we best support and protect each other? Who should we trust? What is reliable information? The Ubele Initiative is pleased to host this important event, exploring these important questions, providing informed responses from Black and minoritised experts’.
Dr Salman Waqar, General Secretary of BIMA, said: “The British Islamic Medical Association (BIMA) are delighted to be working with colleagues from across NHS London, OHID and the Greater London Authority to convene this important session. Many Muslims in the UK are from ethnic minority groups who are at risk of COVID-19 related complications which we know can be minimised by vaccination. It is so important for us to hold spaces for our community to come together and access the information needed to make informed decisions about getting vaccinated, so that no one gets left behind.”
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