The NHS in Essex has teamed up with Ford and local community health leaders to roll out an initiative to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to communities who might face barriers to accessing traditional healthcare services.
Despite the UK’s successful vaccine rollout, COVID-19 vaccine uptake is lower among some communities facing access challenges. Such communities include those experiencing homelessness, ethnically diverse communities, travelling communities and unregistered patients.
To help address this, a specially converted Ford Transit van will begin to travel across Essex from next month, as GP practices work together with local community leaders to safely deliver and administer vaccines in areas of low uptake.
The Ford Transit will be a hub for dedicated vaccine clinics in the grounds of churches, mosques and other community venues.
The bespoke vehicle is based on a Ford Transit and has been converted by West Yorkshire-based specialist vehicle builders, Venari Group. The Transit’s specification includes medical grade refrigeration with WIFI monitoring capability, vaccine transport coolers, a collapsible chair for administering vaccines as well as an integrated tablet for accessing and updating health and vaccination records.
Mandy Dean, director of commercial vehicles at Ford of Britain said: “Over the coming weeks, this Ford Transit will make some incredibly important journeys as a vaccination van. Working with the NHS and community leaders to deliver this brilliant scheme and bolster the exemplary vaccine rollout, has been a privilege. Full credit is due to our conversion partners at Venari Group, who continue to work with us to make thousands of life-saving vehicles for the emergency services every year.”
The Ford and NHS Essex Vaccination Transit will take to the roads from early May. The programme will run as a pilot initially, with scope to increase the number of vehicles in the future and explore further outreach models in the future.