Londoners will be able to get their coronavirus vaccine on a bus as part of a new drive to boost the jab rollout across the capital.
The double-decker, staffed by medics and volunteers, will tour Ilford, where it will offer first and second doses to residents throughout the borough of Redbridge.
It will stop off at mosques to try and encourage more people from the Muslim community to get the jab, and also offer twilight sessions to make it easier for those observing Ramadan to have theirs.
Similar mobile vaccination units have been deployed across the country, including in Nottingham, Bolton, Swindon and Norfolk.
More than 120,000 people have already received a vaccine in Redbridge, according to the council.
Gladys Xavier, the borough’s director of public health, said: ‘We want to make it as easy as possible to get vaccinated, and the new bus will support many more people to do so while helping to keep Redbridge safe.
‘We are working with our community partners to locate the bus in the right places, at the right times, so that as many people as possible can have easy access to vaccine jabs and testing kits.
‘As well as visiting local mosques during Ramadan, the bus will also continue to tour across different locations in the borough.’
The service launched at Balfour Road Mosque on Tuesday evening and will also travel to Belgrave Road on Thursday and Newbury Park on Saturday.
Dr Najib Seedat, a GP at the Ilford medical centre, said: ‘The vaccination bus is a great idea as we as GPs can also use this as a route to get our patients vaccinated.
‘I encourage people to book the vaccination bus, especially community groups as this will allow us to vaccinate more people at once in a location that works best for them.’
A similar scheme is being undertaken in Camden, where it is hoped a roving minibus will help health authorities ‘fill in the gaps’ in the vaccine rollout by picking up eligible people yet to come forward.
It will also aim to encourage people who may be less confident in having the jab by providing reassurance and information on site.
The bus will operate for four hours a day, three days a week, and begins its tour in the Euston and Regent’s Park Estate area.
Piers Simey, Camden’s acting director of public health, said more than 86,000 residents have been vaccinated, with 32,000 of those now having the full protection of both jabs, adding: ‘But we don’t want to leave anyone behind in Camden.
‘We know that certain communities may need extra reassurance or assistance to have their first jab, so we are looking to share whatever information they may need, and to ensure that having the vaccine is as convenient as possible.
‘The evidence is clear – by having the vaccine you can protect yourself from serious illness due to Covid-19. And there’s growing evidence that you can also reduce the risk of passing on Covid-19 to others, including your loved ones.
‘The vaccine gives us the best chance of moving forward to a more normal way of life.’
The bus has been launched in partnership with University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH).
Tim Jaggard, acting chief executive of UCLH, said: ‘Taking the vaccine out on to the streets of Camden by bus will help make sure that everyone can get easy access to the Covid-19 vaccine.’
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