A vaccine tracing service is being trialled in York to reach residents who have not yet made an appointment for their jab.
Public health leaders say take up of the vaccine has been good in the city and that the programme has helped bring Covid 19 rates down dramatically.
But concerns had been raised about vaccination rates in some communities, particularly in more deprived areas of the city or people unable to travel to the vaccine site at Askham Bar.
Peter Roderick from York’s public health team said: “We’re working very closely with the GP practices in York on a project we’re calling vaccine tracing, where actually we are actively phoning up those who haven’t attended and have probably had quite a long time to do so.”
He said the project started a week ago and has seen contact tracers call people in the top vaccination cohorts who have not booked their jab to have a “helpful and friendly conversation to try to encourage them to get along to the vaccine clinic”.
He added that the contact tracers are skilled at having difficult conversations about Covid.
Stephanie Porter from Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group said the tracers have found that a “surprisingly high” number of people have not taken up the vaccine because they are not currently living in the country but are still registered.
She said: “We’ve got a surprisingly high number of people who’ve not taken up a vaccine because they’re not resident in the UK. It does go through quite a long list of reasons, some people are too ill to take the vaccine, some of it is choice.
“The contract tracing is gathering all sorts of knowledge and experience about why people may choose not to take up a vaccine and lots of those things are legitimate, so that balance between supporting people’s choice versus getting the numbers up is the approach that we want to take.”
A transport hardship fund has been created to help people struggling to get to the vaccination site and community pharmacies could start vaccinating residents in the next month, according to health bosses.
The vaccination site is running quieter sessions for residents with learning disabilities or autism to make getting vaccinated a less stressful experience.
The council is also looking at starting pop-up clinics.
Overwhelmed by the demand
Dr Emma Broughton told the council’s health and wellbeing board: “We don’t have enough vaccines for everyone that’s been offered them as yet, but they will come and they are coming.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with the demand and desire for the vaccine.
“Some of the community pharmacies are going to be getting status in the next month so hopefully in some of our communities with more deprivation and less transport, there will be more vaccines available at a local level.”
The meeting heard that there is currently just one Covid patient in York Hospital.
The public health team says that although there has been a slight increase in Covid rates in the past fortnight, this was expected following the lifting of some restrictions on April 12 and they do not think it is a sign of a third wave.