A GROUP of “community champions” is encouraging people in Oxford who still haven’t received a covid vaccine to book one.

Oxford City Council formed the group and launched a programme to better understand vaccine uptake and the underlying health inequality in the city.

It said that over the last two years there was a reluctance to take the covid vaccines among some Oxford residents, despite overwhelming evidence of their efficacy and the fact one of the vaccines was created in Oxford.

NHS and government data shows that about 30 per cent of people living in Oxford remain unvaccinated despite having been eligible to book a covid vaccination since mid-June last year.  

The programme, which involved recruiting a group of “community champions” to listen and capture the reasons why people are hesitant, aims to understand the reasons why some people have barriers to accessing services, including health.

Councillor Shaista Aziz, cabinet member for communities and culture, said that one of the main findings of the programme was that some language and images used as part of the vaccination campaign were off-putting to some residents. 

READ MORE: Oxford clinical trial investigates new drug for diabetes

Cllr Aziz said: “We now have 35 fully-trained community champions who represent neighbourhoods across the city.

“Over recent weeks, the champions have been busy having conversations with their friends and neighbours about why some Oxford residents aren’t getting vaccinated and engaging with the health service.

“We’ve fed that information to community groups, charities and health professionals across the city, so we can remove barriers and build better services.

“We’ve already found that some of the language and images used to promote services or as part of the vaccination campaign can be off-putting to some groups, so we’ve made changes.

“Our aim is to ensure all Oxford residents feel safe and secure getting vaccinated and using the health service.”

The “champions” are receiving personal and professional training from the council, which hopes that the programme will bring together people from diverse communities and backgrounds creating a group to build strong services and community cohesion.

To find out more and to become a “community champion”, visit www.oxford.gov.uk/community-champions

Oxfordshire walk-in clinics still offer jabs to everyone aged 12 and over or appointments can be booked online on https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/book-coronavirus-vaccination/ or by calling 119.