Go North East has converted one of its buses into a new mobile Covid-19 vaccine unit. The bus will travel around Newcastle, visiting communities who are unable to get to a vaccination centre, or where uptake has proven low.
For its first few rounds, the bus will visit hostels in Newcastle to vaccinate the homeless, as well as the Newcastle Muslim Centre, in a bid to address local health inequalities. The service will be provided by Newcastle GP Services and Newcastle City Council, who have helped to vaccinate more than 45,000 people in the city.
North East Homeless, a charity providing food and emergency equipment to those who are vulnerable and homeless, told Beep about the initiative: “Anything that helps to keep our most vulnerable people safe, including street homeless, can on only be a great thing.”
The new vaccine bus – with its waiting room, annex tent, registration desks and one-way system – will be driven, housed and maintained by Go North East. Vaccines will be administered by medical staff in a private area, behind a screen and frosted glazed windows.
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Martin Gilber, managing director at Go North East, said: “We are delighted to be playing a further part in the exceptionally important vaccination effort, which is essential to both people’s health and wellbeing, and the re-starting of the country’s economy.”
This kind of public health initiative coincides with Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s praise of the North East last week for having “nailed it” with Covid vaccinations so far. Yet fewer people in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and low-income communities have received the vaccine.
It is hoped that a mobile vaccination unit such as this will boost the number of jabs given to those where take-up is low.