A number of high-profile charities have backed calls from the government and the NHS to encourage vulnerable people to get their Covid-19 vaccination.
As the rollout progresses, those in priority group 6 are now being invited to book an appointment for their vaccine. This group includes people who have learning disabilities and those with underlying health conditions, including cancer, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Representatives from 18 charities, including Cancer Research UK, the Terrence Higgins Trust, the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust, Carers UK, Diabetes UK and Mencap, have written an open letter to provide reassurance for those who are eligible for their vaccine now. The aim is to ensure that anyone who wants to have their vaccine feels confident in coming forward and to ease anxiety.
In addition to the open letter signed by the charities, the NHS is also working with local and regional organisations, charities and health groups to provide information about vaccination and encourage those who may be fearful or anxious to come forward. There is a lot of inaccurate information online and on social media, and some people have had negative experiences in the past, which might make them more likely to refuse the vaccine.
NHS England sent approximately 2 million text messages over the course of the weekend of the 13th/14th March inviting people to get their vaccine. Group 6 on the JCVI’s vaccine list includes people aged up to 64 with underlying health conditions and learning disabilities. Underlying conditions include cancer, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, conditions that suppress the immune system, sickle cell disease, lupus, neurological conditions, severe mental illnesses and morbid obesity.
National medical director of NHS England, Prof Stephen Powis, urged anyone who is hesitant about getting the vaccine to read the letter, to seek advice from health professionals and to have the jab to protect themselves and those close to them. Matt Hancock, the health secretary, described the support of charities as “invaluable.”
On Monday 15th March, more than 24.4 million people in the UK had received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.