Elen Notley, Marketing and Communications Manager at WCVA outlines how voluntary organisation can support the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine in Wales by sharing communications.
(Updated on 9 February 2021)
The COVID-19 vaccination programme here in Wales has now begun, and WCVA and CVCs (County Voluntary Councils) continue to work closely with Public Health Wales, Welsh Government, and local Health Boards to support the voluntary sector during the roll out.
The voluntary sector here in Wales has been invaluable over the past year in supporting our communities during the pandemic, with countless volunteers and organisations stepping up to support those in need and help take pressure off the NHS. Now as we progress with vaccinations, the voluntary sector has once again stepped forward to support our communities.
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
The COVID-19 vaccine programme is well underway in Wales. Two vaccines have been approved and are in use – Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and further vaccines are close to approval and will likely become part of the programme from Spring 2021.
Vaccines are being deployed to people in order of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) priority lists.
The Welsh Government are aiming to offer a first dose of the vaccine to all those in priority groups 1 to 4 by the middle of February. This includes care home residents and carers; frontline health and social care workers; those 70 years of age and over and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable.
Infrastructure to support the programme has been built in record time, including a robust digital infrastructure for booking appointments, recording, and reporting on vaccination activity.
34 mass vaccination centres are now up and running as well as over 400 GP practices being in use so far. Further mass vaccination centres are also set to open.
WHAT INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE SO FAR?
Public Health Wales and Welsh Government have published information about the vaccine which is available here: phw.nhs.wales/covid-19-vaccination
As COVID-19 is a new strain of the Coronavirus, many people will have lots of queries and concerns. Below are some useful Q&As to answer some of these: phw.nhs.wales/topics/immunisation-and-vaccines/covid-19-vaccination-information/about-the-vaccine/
There are also communication resources now available for organisations to adopt and share: wales.assetbank-server.com/assetbank-wales/images/assetbox/0892f122-3a5d-45c1-996f-30474b296c41/assetbox.html
Valuing Vaccines is also a useful campaign which provides facts around how vaccines work and save lives. The below link provides information and resources for sharing in communications: https://www.valuingvaccines.org.uk/
As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic is a global issue, and so as the vaccination programme ramps up in the UK, there are many questions about how to ensure effective vaccination for all countries. Below is some further information on this: https://www.who.int/initiatives/act-accelerator/covax
There are regular updates on the progress of the vaccine here In Wales, available via this link; https://gov.wales/covid-19-vaccination-programme-weekly-update-2-february-2021
WHAT CAN VOLUNTARY ORGANISATIONS DO TO SUPPORT COMMUNICATIONS?
As trusted voices who work closely with communities, specific groups who need to be prioritised in receiving the vaccine and pockets of our communities who may be harder to reach, voluntary organisations can help the roll out by sharing information about the vaccine programme.
Communicating the process of receiving a vaccine, Q&As, the facts around its effectiveness and other key information, will help to ensure as many people as possible understand how the vaccine works and the process of receiving it.
Voluntary organisations can also support the roll out by engaging in an open line of communication with WCVA and CVCs to share feedback from the ground. There will be lots of queries and concerns from the public and so by sharing with us what you are hearing from communities and individuals, then we can ensure this information is passed on to Welsh Government and Public Health Wales to continuously shape the programme over the next year.
The effective, consistent and transparent wide-reaching communication on vaccines and their availability will be crucial.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED?
WCVA will be supporting organisations by sharing communications tools to then circulate with your networks and service users. This may include campaign packs, social media graphics, animations, leaflets, and content specifically designed for your audiences based on the priority phasing of the vaccine roll out.
We would like to hear from you if there are specific communications tools you believe would benefit your audiences and your ability to engage with them on the vaccine, for example if you are in regular contact with people who are digitally excluded or require multi-lingual information. We will continue to work closely with CVCs, Welsh Government and Public Health Wales to develop these tools.
On 04 February, we hosted a second workshop with presentations from Darius Hughes, Chair of the ABPI Vaccines Group and Head of Pfizer Vaccines UK and Doug Nicholls, Head of Communications Planning for Health, to provide organisations with information on how the COVID-19 vaccine was developed and an update of where Wales has got to with the vaccine programme. We will be hosting similar sessions regularly going forward to provide updates, share insight, and pull together any feedback we receive, to then inform relevant parties.
This will help to ensure that communications throughout the vaccine programme are responding to the information needs of our communities. To register your interest in attending these sessions, or to enquire about specific communications tools please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
WHAT HAVE VOLUNTEERS BEEN DOING?
The interest in supporting the vaccine programme from volunteers and voluntary organisations to date has been fantastic. Arrangements are now in place with St John’s Ambulance Cymru and British Red Cross as well as conversations underway with Marie Curie and Tenovus for further support.
Local Health Boards are working with CVC’s to manage the process of involving volunteers dependant on need in each area. They are working to make this as streamlined as possible whilst ensuring safeguarding of patients and volunteers. Conversations on the involvement of volunteers in supporting each local health board area are ongoing as the programme is still being developed.