People in Somerset who are feeling unsure about whether to have their Covid-19 vaccine are being encouraged to set up a call with a Vaccination Buddy.
Vaccination Buddies are specially trained volunteers who are on hand to have supportive phone calls with people who have questions or concerns about getting the Covid-19 vaccine.
Somerset County Council, NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and Spark Somerset have teamed up to recruit volunteers to become Vaccination Buddies and play a supportive role in helping people stay safe as society starts to open up again.
Professor Trudi Grant, Somerset County Council Director of Public Health said: “We know that some groups of people are more likely to be at risk from Covid-19 and its long-term effects. These are also the people most likely to be worried about having the vaccination.
“Vaccination Buddies have received specialist training so that they are equipped with the information to support people and help them make informed decisions that are right for them.”
People who are worried about having the vaccine can be referred (or self-refer) to the scheme and a fully trained Vaccination Buddy will then contact them by phone to discuss their concerns and offer information and assurance. Anyone wishing to make a referral should fill in this form.
The Vaccination Buddy scheme builds on the success of the Covid Community Champions initiative – a network of volunteers who help people in Somerset get the latest advice about Covid-19 to ensure residents stay as happy and healthy as possible during these difficult times.
Helen Fielden, Volunteer Development Officer at Spark Somerset said: “We have recruited a knowledgeable, skilled team of Vaccination Buddies who are keen to support people to make informed decisions about accessing the COVID-19 vaccination. We would encourage anyone to has concerns or questions about the vaccine to get in touch.”
Dr Alex Murray, Joint Senior Responsible Officer for the Somerset Covid Vaccination Programme, added: “To get the best protection against Covid-19, we really want to encourage everyone to take up the offer of a vaccination, as soon as they are invited by the NHS.
“We’re really delighted that this scheme has been launched, and hope that our new vaccine buddies can help to provide extra information and reassurance on the vaccination programme to people in Somerset.”
To become a Vaccination Buddy, volunteers simply need to register through Spark Somerset | Spark a Change and attend a short ‘myth buster’ training course on Zoom.
More information on the Covid Community Champions initiative is available by visiting: https://www.sparksomerset.org.uk/projects/covid-community-champions
So far Somerset’s coronavirus vaccination programme has seen more than 570,000 Covid-19 vaccinations given, and the success of the vaccination roll out has contributed to significant falls in infections, hospitalisations and deaths from the virus.
Notes to Editors
Following the latest Government announcements; people who are aged 32 and over can now book their vaccination appointment through the National Booking Service – either online, or by calling 119. A range of locations across Somerset are available including large vaccination sites, pharmacy-led sites and a number of GP-led community locations.
For further information, please contact the Somerset County Council Press Office on 01823 355020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org