Coronavirus: Praise for council staff working behind the scenes on COVID-19 booster programme
The Leader of Shropshire Council has paid tribute to the hundreds of staff supporting the accelerated winter COVID-19 booster programme.
While colleagues in the NHS were working tirelessly to hit the ambitious target of offering every adult a COVID-19 booster jab before 2022’s start, council staff were very busy behind the scenes.
Lezley Picton, Leader. said the partnership working between NHS, volunteers, partners and Shropshire Council was the key to the success of the vaccination drive.
Almost 85% of eligible adults in Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin have now had the COVID-19 booster dose – giving themselves the best level or protection against the virus.
Lezley Picton said:-
“I am incredibly proud of the way Shropshire Council staff responded to this call to action. Their commitment to our county and its residents is incredible.
“We are forever grateful to the clinical NHS staff administering the jabs, and I am delighted that we were able to support them in so many different ways.”
In response to the emergence of the new Omicron variant on 24 November 2021, the Prime Minister announced the target to give everyone aged over 18 a booster dose by the end of 2021.
Shropshire Council quickly began identifying locations in the county which could double up as a vaccination clinic. Just days after the announcement, the Darwin Shopping Centre in Shrewsbury became a walk-in vaccination site, open 7 days a week. Thousands of people over the following weeks dropped in to get a jab, some while Christmas shopping.
Council staff were also released from their ‘day job’ to volunteer at the clinic, while around 40 staff gave up their weekends and evenings to volunteer at other walk-in sites around the county.
One of the most effective ways of getting the vaccinations to people was through Bob the mobile vaccination bus. This was initially commissioned in July 2021 by Shropshire Council’s passenger transport group.
In December 2021 a second Shropshire Council bus, that usually takes children to school and people to social day care centres, started a new journey – joining the area’s COVID-19 booster and vaccination drive.
The bus was stripped of its seats and converted into a mobile vaccination unit that NHS teams can use across the area for pop-up clinics. The second bus, nicknamed Betty, has now been converted into a mobile vaccination unit, with add-ins such as privacy screens, power connections, hand washing facilities and heating, allowing NHS teams to set up the clinics wherever Betty parks.
The passenger transport group team has been an integral part in providing this useful service and has undertaken the deployment of Bob and Betty, the vehicle maintenance, driving and marshalling; and staff have gone above and beyond, working weekends and through the recent holiday period to ensure its efficient running, in partnership with other council colleagues and agencies.
As part of our work to ensure everyone had access to the COVID-19 booster, the transport team also utilised the in-house fleet to offer transport to anyone who was unable to get to their vaccination appointment.
The community wellbeing outreach team has also played a vital role in the vaccine programme, co-ordinating Bob the Bus, arranging venues for Bob, marshalling at drop-in sites, and talking to the public about the importance of vaccinations. Using intelligence and data, officers have been visiting areas of inequality in
Over the Christmas 2021 period the Customer Service Centre made almost 7,000 outbound calls and messages encouraging residents to get boosted. They also staffed a COVID-19 Vaccination Helpline, helping people to book an appointment or find their nearest walk-in clinic. On top of this, the team also made 2,297 calls to residents identified as vulnerable, isolated or lonely as part of our ‘Winter Wellness’ campaign.
So many of the council’s staff have been actively involved in the COVID-19 booster programme, with many more working behind the scenes, and their efforts have carried on into 2022.