Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine inclusion: vaccination programme - phase one

An overview of the inclusive approach adopted during the first stage of the COVID-19 vaccinations programme (December 2020 - September 2021). This includes examples of health board approaches and activities delivered in collaboration with stakeholders, and national programme activity and support.

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2. Communications

Programme objective:

Communications support people to overcome barriers to accessing vaccination, which will increase vaccine confidence and the number of people accessing their first dose – and returning for the second dose of vaccination.

Examples of national programme support:

A free national vaccination helpline was made available to support people without digital access with questions, booking and rescheduling appointments.

Our approach to national communications evolved over time so more people could engage with the programme. Information around the vaccines and informed consent was created in over 30 different languages on NHS Inform, with accessible formats also available including easy read, British Sign Language and audio. A QR code was added to vaccination appointment letters to take people directly to this information so they were fully informed ahead of their vaccine.

National messaging in the form of a vaccine explainer video was developed in partnership with third sector and community partners to provide information for a range of communities. It is also available in a range of languages, including British Sign Language. These explainer videos can be accessed on YouTube. National communications such as the explainer video answered key questions people had, and provided reassurance – for example:

  • that the vaccines are halal;
  • that NHS Scotland does not pass personal details to the Home Office for the purpose of immigration enforcement;
  • and that immigration checks are not required to access vaccination.

Other tailored video and voice messages were produced for use with communities across the country, including for unpaid carers, refugees and asylum seekers, faith groups and those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning a pregnancy. These messages can be accessed through the Scottish Government's YouTube channel.

A communications toolkit was specifically created for ethnic minority communities, which included bespoke assets and messaging to address particular concerns, and provided suggested social media posts which signposted to the language-specific leaflets on NHS Inform.

A Voluntary Health Scotland blog was written by a young adult to encourage others to take up the offer of the vaccine. We've worked closely with Young Scot to ensure their website is up to date and relevant information and marketing assets are regularly shared with them.

National question and answer sessions for under-vaccinated groups were organised in partnership with community representatives and the national clinical advisor aired online or on the radio. These have included:

  • an interview conducted by prisoners in Barlinnie Prison and aired on prison radio across the estate;
  • attending a Young Scot podcast to answer question young people had about the vaccine;
  • a session aired on Jambo Radio for African and Caribbean communities; and
  • a FENIKS-hosted Facebook live event for the Polish community.

Examples of health board approaches and activities:

Local communications have varied depending on the needs of the local population. All boards carried out targeted communications for under vaccinated population groups, using multiple platforms, languages and formats.

Some examples of local communications include:

  • NHS Borders: An information video featuring a local Consultant was shared on social media, providing information for those pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
  • NHS Dumfries and Galloway: A video of a Public Health Consultant answering questions from members of a local multicultural association; added information leaflets to food parcels to reach people in more deprived areas who may not access social media / digital channels; created posters for Gypsy / Traveller communities with information on how they can access
    the vaccine.
  • NHS Fife: Created a programme for those who are pregnant via maternity services to provide patient-centred advice and vaccination.
  • NHS Forth Valley: Developed and distributed a questionnaire to the local Polish community to understand reasons for low uptake. Gathering the responses enabled them to address specific concerns.
  • NHS Grampian: Developed an online presentation for local Syrian new Scots addressing misconceptions and providing information about vaccinations.
  • NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde: Created video links and key messages shared through targeted social media channels, including religious organisations; aired an interview with a GP in English and Urdu on Radio Awaz – followed up by a series of advertisements in English, Urdu and Punjabi; interviewed Dr Syed Ahmed, Senior Medical Officer (Immunisation, Vaccination and Influenza) on Radio Awaz; 'selfie' videos of minority ethnic community staff members receiving their vaccinations produced for social media and shared with community groups; '#MyJagMatters' social media campaign aimed at people between 18-35 years old; series of selfie videos from the public detailing why being vaccinated is important to them with videos posted each day.
  • NHS Lothian: Created frequently asked questions document and community messaging videos to provide reassurance about fertility; resources to provide advice and signposting on vaccinations during pregnancy and breastfeeding; '#StickWithIt' campaign ran on social media to address fatigue with restrictions with younger people, remind people they may still transmit the virus once vaccinated and stress importance of continued adherence to guidance.
  • NHS Shetland: Local messaging through local media, social media, posters in shops and other settings, to invite temporary residents to attend clinics.
  • NHS Tayside: Created videos targeted at younger age groups which were shared on social media with the catch-line '#GrabAJab'.
  • NHS Western Isles: Created posters on fertility, pregnancy and breastfeeding providing advice and signposting on vaccinations during pregnancy and breastfeeding.



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