How has considering the Equality Impact of the programme shaped the policy making process so far
95. The work done to address Inclusion and Equality throughout the programme is captured in this this Equality Impact Assessment and has shaped and been informed by programme policy, design, communication, inclusion and delivery considerations. It is vital for the current COVID-19 and flu vaccination programme to reach everyone eligible and that no one is left behind, both for individual health and our collective community wellbeing.
96. To help achieve this, the Scottish Government's Vaccinations Inclusion and Equalities team and Communications team is working across the Programme to ensure that inclusion is embedded across all aspects of the vaccination programme.
Actions to date include:
- Our approach to inclusive vaccinations has strengthened over the course of the COVID-19 vaccination programme. We have worked with health boards, Public Health Scotland (PHS) and a wide range of stakeholders to help inform this work and ensure it is fully embedded across our planning and delivery, building on the HIIA from November 2020, developed by PHS.
- In response to the HIIA, work was undertaken at an early stage to prepare information on informed consent, provide translations of key documents in a number of common community languages and begin to develop relevant communications and marketing activity.
- In line with their Public Sector Equalities Duties, health boards were expected to undertake their own Equality Impact Assessments.
- As health boards rapidly stood up their local delivery in winter 2020/21, it became clear that additional support was required from the national programme to ensure they were fully considering and catering for everyone in our society – in particular those who make up our under-served communities.
- A National Vaccine Inclusive Steering Group for COVID-19 was set up to share examples of practice and to advise on planning, communications and delivery of the programme. Membership includes faith, community and third sector organisations; umbrella bodies such as Voluntary Health Scotland; health professionals including GPs working in practices in deprived areas, PHS, NHS boards, Scottish Ambulance Service; relevant SG policies; a range of minority ethnic communities and disabled peoples' organisations.
- We have also responded to recommendations from the Expert Reference Group on COVID-19 and Ethnicity regarding ensuring the programme is accessible for those in minority ethnic communities and about the collection of ethnicity data from Tranche 2.
- The national programme has sought to improve communications to ensure they are suitable for everyone in Scotland. Details are included throughout this document.
- Each local health board produced an Inclusive plan taking note of various documents including PHS's HIIA and Voluntary Health Scotland's report, 'Vaccine Inclusion: reducing inequalities one vaccine at a time'.
- Inclusive approach is discussed at regular meetings between Scottish Government and local health boards.
- Health boards have built partnerships with local organisations and undertaken assertive outreach for communities less likely to come forward for their vaccine in the clinics. For example, Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) partnered with one board to go out to Gypsy/Traveller sites and mobile clinics were taken to frontline homelessness services to reach those experiencing homelessness. Information on these activities was collated and assessed against the inclusive criteria and a health board output report was shared in May to note and promote good practice.
- The national programme and health board's inclusive activities continue to be informed by new data and evidence, as we get it. For example, PHS began to publish regular vaccination uptake data broken down by ethnicity and deprivation in spring 2021. These data continue to indicate the lowest levels of uptake are amongst African, Caribbean and Polish communities and those living in areas of deprivation.
- As well as encouraging health boards to target these communities, national work has been undertaken, including building relationships with the African Council and BEMIS, hosting a Q&A session with Scottish Government Clinical Director for the Polish community and with Jambo! Radio which serves the African and Caribbean communities.
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