A CAMPAIGN has been launched to improve take-up of Covid-19 vaccinations among the Irish community across Britain.
The initiative, organised by the Irish in Britain (IIB) organisation, comes in response to new research figures which show a lower take-up among the Irish diaspora in Britain compared to the majority of the British population.
Launched this week, IIB’s Vaccine Le Chéile/Together is calling on members of the community who are not yet jabbed to get their initial two Covid vaccines as well as their booster, to protect themselves and the wider community as the virus continues to sweep through the country.
“The primary goal of this campaign is to provide Irish people living in Britain, particularly those who have yet to receive any doses of the vaccination, with evidence-based information to address misconceptions and questions and enable informed positive decisions for self-care and care for others in their communities,” IIB, which is an umbrella organisation representing more than 100 Irish clubs, centres and charities across Britain, explains of its new initiative.
The data on the Irish community’s lower vaccine rates has been sourced from the OpenSAFELY, a software platform analysing electronic health records data, which was created to deliver results quickly during the pandemic.
“This data has highlighted lower vaccine uptake across all ages in the Irish community compared with the British population,” IIB explain.
“As part of Irish in Britain’s commitment to community health the charity hopes the Vaccine Le Chéile/Together campaign will help raise the level of vaccine take up, across England, Scotland and Wales.”
Brian MacKenna, Pharmacist in the OpenSAFELY team based at the University of Oxford, confirmed: “The NHS has rapidly delivered a very successful vaccination campaign; however we have found lower vaccination coverage amongst some groups including the Irish community.
“The OpenSAFELY platform facilitates timely and important Covid-19 research across 57 million people’s NHS records, including 200,000 Irish people, whilst maintaining the security and privacy of an individual’s health record.
“We hope our weekly data reports help inform the Vaccine Le Chéile campaign, to increase vaccine coverage amongst the Irish community.”
The OpenSAFELY research also reveals more positive findings – confirming that a huge majority, nearly 90 per cent, of Irish people aged over 80 living in England have received their booster vaccination to date.
Brian Dalton, CEO Irish in Britain, told The Irish Post: “The community alliance we represent has proven itself a powerful force to keep each other healthy and connected.
“The last 18 months has illustrated the power of community activism. We all now have a chance to play our part in positive action with this campaign, which was endorsed by our membership at our AGM in November.”
Clodagh Dunne, Health and Wellbeing Project Coordinator at Liverpool Irish Centre, an IIB member, voiced their support for the campaign.
“Liverpool Irish Centre is happy to support Vaccine Le Chéile, it is of utmost importance that we provide our communities with opportunities to get vaccinated to protect ourselves and each other,” she said.
“We will work with Irish in Britain to ensure we help reduce the risk of members of our community getting seriously ill or dying.”
Ellen Gavin, Health and Wellbeing Development Officer at Irish in Britain added: “I am delighted to be leading this campaign, the health of the Irish community is paramount to our work at Irish in Britain.
“This campaign entails several elements including an information pack for members; a designated page on our website including videos, relevant links and frequently asked questions; vaccine access information; and a Covid-19 vaccine informational webinar for members.”
She added: “I hope that our efforts will lead to positive results that will in turn, reduce the current vaccine coverage gap among the Irish people living in Britain.”
OpenSAFELY’s weekly Covid-19 vaccine coverage report can be found here.
For further information about the IIB vaccine campaign contact Ellen at [email protected].