Places of worship as vaccine centres

Location: Walsall

Target Group: Faith Communities

Initiative type: Places of worship as vaccine centres

Who we spoke to: Zeb Shamraze, Practice Manager and Walsall South One Primary Care Network Operational Lead

Why is this important to us?

“Our Primary Care Network quickly became aware of the high levels of vaccine hesitancy in our patch. Over 50% of our patients aged 80+ were declining the vaccine due to misinformation. We had to do something to reach out, intervene and support. We knew that people in our community had a lot of trust in their faith leaders, so this is where we decided to start.”

What are we doing?

“We have held four vaccination events at two mosques and two gurdwaras located in different parts of the borough. They were open to anyone qualifying for the vaccine, but we also spent time phoning our patients who had declined the vaccine to let them know they could have it at their local place of worship. A typical COVID-19 vaccine centre aims to get everyone in and out as quickly as possible, however we knew that opportunities to ask questions about the vaccine would be important. We had dedicated areas set up for this purpose with staff ready to have conversations. Many local faith leaders also attended the events and recorded messages and videos of them having the vaccine.”

Who is involved?

“With the support of Walsall CCG, our team of nurses, GPs and vaccinators led on the setup and delivery of these events. The places of worship welcomed us with open arms, supported us with volunteers at the sites and played a very important role in promoting the events within the local community.”

What works for us?

“We learned that it was never about the location of the vaccine appointment, but about using trusted relationships in the community to overcome hesitancy. The uptake has been excellent, and we have seen a whole range of people attending the events, regardless of their religious or ethnic background. There has been a 20% increase in uptake, and this includes people who we believe would not have had the vaccine without these events, as they had previously declined it multiple times. We have also found that once that initial hesitancy is overcome by attending a centre that is comfortable, familiar and trusted, everyone is happy to have their second dose at the GP surgery.”

For more examples and key learnings on this theme visit the Strategy Unit website.