During the COVID-19 pandemic, many health and care professionals such as doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and psychologists volunteered their time as professional networks to support better access to vaccines and health advice for communities across the UK.
Some of these faith or ethnicity-based networks helped reach marginalised populations who can experience barriers to accessing care.
New research overseen by the Faculty of Public Health, funded by Public Health England, and delivered by the University of Hertfordshire explores how these networks supported vaccine uptake in the community and how this support was received.
The results highlight that:
- There are historic issues surrounding the way health information is communicated to minority ethnic communities, which contributed to concerns about being vaccinated for some adults, a major health disadvantage.
- Members of these professional health networks volunteered 4 extra hours a week on average, supporting outreach in communities they are part of to help demystify vaccination.
- These networks engaged in a range of activities including translating information, promoting and running vaccine clinics, holding webinars, supporting doctors stranded abroad, producing research on health inequalities, and fundraising.
- This effort encouraged more people to get vaccinated, and the networks could also help meet current and future public health needs. However, we must think through how this contribution can be properly enabled to avoid overreliance on volunteering.
We hope that the findings of this work will help strengthen the case for community-based support that is tailored, meaningful, relatable, and sustainable.
Read the full report here.