NHS bosses plan to enlist celebrities and “influencers” with big social media followings in a major campaign to persuade people to have a Covid vaccine amid fears of low take-up.
Ministers and NHS England are drawing up a list of “very sensible” famous faces in the hope that their advice to get immunised would be widely trusted.
Health chiefs are particularly worried about the number of people who are still undecided, and about vaccine scepticism among NHS staff. “There will be a big national campaign [to drive take-up],” said one source with knowledge of the plans. “NHS England are looking for famous faces, people who are known and loved. It could be celebrities who are very sensible and have done sensible stuff during the pandemic.”
No names are thought to have been confirmed. But NHS communications experts suggested privately that the footballer Marcus Rashford, who is widely admired for his child food poverty campaign, which has forced two government U-turns, and members of the royal family would be ideal recruits.
Meanwhile, an internal NHS briefing paper shows that airline cabin crew, firefighters and the jobless are being targeted as part of a huge team of vaccinators being assembled, trained and paid £11.20 an hour to administer the jabs.
Under the slogan “Your NHS needs you”, the recruitment campaign aimed at enlisting “tens of thousands” of extra staff will stress that vaccines “will be our best defence against the virus alongside effective social distancing, wearing a mask and washing your hands” and that vaccinators will be playing a vital role by immunising “millions of at-risk people”.
For the NHS campaign to tackle Covid scepticism, officials plan to use doctors who often appear on television and radio discussing health issues, because of their profile and the trust they are assumed to already have with the public. They will also deploy other “influencers” who are popular on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Religious leaders are being asked to help persuade adherents to their faith that vaccination is good for them, their family and the country as a whole. They are seen as important ways of getting pro-immunisation messages to people of black, Asian and minority ethnic origin in particular, amid concern about potential take-up in some communities.
In Yorkshire, staff from Bradford Royal Infirmary are working with local religious and community leaders to devise ways to encourage the city’s large Asian population to have the jab.
The NHS and Public Health England are also drawing up parallel plans to convince the health service’s 1.4m-strong workforce in England to get vaccinated amid signs that a significant proportion may shun it.
Jacqueline Totterdell, chief executive of St George’s hospital trust in London, told a seminar run by the Health Service Journal: “I think there is a lot of anxiety [among staff], and some of the polls we’ve done around south-west London show that as little as 50% of people are willing just to have it without any [assurance about its safety]. We might all think people might be rushing to have it, but actually we might find that’s not quite the case.”
Thea Stein, the boss of Leeds community healthcare NHS trust, told the same event: “People who know about vaccines, know about side-effects, feel they don’t know enough about the potential side-effects of the vaccine [for Covid] … they feel anxious and uncertain.”
The Daily Expose would to remind you that you shouldn’t do something just because someone who is on the telly says you should. These people are paid a lot of money (YOUR MONEY) to say it. Do your own research. Come to your own conclusions, and do what You know to be right.